Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

I buy wheat bread but everyone keeps saying it might not be whole wheat. How do I know?

The push is on to eat more whole grains but, like you, many find this harder than they thought it would be. Which foods are really whole grain and does wheat mean whole wheat?

Let’s first talk about grain in general. Refined grains are used in our foods more than we realize. When a whole grain is refined some of the parts are processed out. A whole grain contains a bran, germ and endosperm layer. When processed the germ and bran are removed.

Many food products have to be fortified or enriched to replace key nutrients lost during processing. The main product in which enrichment is required is flour. B Vitamins and iron are added back. (Salt is an example of food that is fortified by adding iodine to prevent deficiency and milk has been fortified with Vitamin D.) Enrichment puts back what is lost and fortification is adding what was not currently present.

The best way to tell if a food contains whole wheat is to read the ingredient list. If the grain says whole, it is most likely actually a whole grain. If it says whole wheat on the front but says wheat flour and not “whole” wheat flour on the ingredients, it is not likely whole.

Here are some grains that are whole that you might also want to include in your meal plans – brown rice, barley, oats, quinoa, bulgur, farro, millet as well as whole grain containing foods such as pasta, crackers, bread, and cereal.

Whole grains have many health benefits and we should be including more into our diets daily. Good luck getting half or more of your grains whole!

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