Wednesday, 29 April 2009

What's a Whole Grain?

We know that the grains we eat should be "Whole Grains"... and i've blogged about Whole Grains in the past. The topic can be a bit confusing though so I'm going to review.

First, a little quiz:

1. Which bread is usually all or mostly whole grain?
a. Whole Wheat
b. Multi Grain
c. Rye
d. Pumpernickel

2. Which of the following (could be more than one) are whole grains?
a. Bulgur
b. Quinoa
c. Couscous
d. Oatmeal

3. Which cereals are whole grains?

a. Shredded Wheat
b. Total
c. All Bran
d. Corn Flakes
e. Special K

1. Bread

In theory, Multi Grain, Rye and Pumpernickel could all be whole grain... but not always.
The answer is a) Whole Wheat bread... but only in the US.

In Canada and the US, read the ingredient list. If the first ingredient starts with "whole", it's a whole grain. For example, if the first ingredient is "Wheat Flour", it's not a whole grain. If it's "Whole Wheat Flour", it is.

Products labeled with words like "made with whole wheat", "multigrain," "stone ground," "whole wheat (in Canada*)," "seven-grain," or "bran" may actually contain little or no whole grain!

*In Canada, it's legal to advertise any food product as "whole wheat" with up to 70% of the germ removed! A label must state '100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat' for a Canadian consumer to know they're getting a whole grain product.

Don't rely on the colour of the bread- lots of products add molasses to get that brown colour.
Don't rely on fiber amount either since products may add processed fiber from peas or other food that can help prevent constipation and diverticulosis but doesn't offer the antioxidants and phytochemicals whole grains do.

When shopping for bread:

Choose ones that are whole grains AND high in fiber:

-Read the ingredient list and choose a bread that has a whole grain as the first ingredient- in most cases, starting with the word "whole".
-Choose a whole grain bread that contains 2-3 or more grams of fiber per slice.

2. Other Whole Grains

b) Quinoa and d) Oatmeal are whole grains.
Bulgur and Couscous are not always (whole grain bulgur and whole wheat couscous are).

Other whole grains include:
Barley ( but not pearl barley), buckwheat, kamut, millet, brown and wild rice and spelt.

3. Cereal

a) Shredded Wheat and b) Total are whole grains. All Brans, Corn Flakes and Special K are not.

The first ingredient in a whole grain cereal is a whole grain- usually starts with the word "Whole".
For example, the first ingredient in the cereal Grape Nuts is "Whole Grain Wheat Flour" therefore, it's a whole grain.
The first ingredient in the cereal Kellogg's Multi-Grain Rice Krispies is "Rice" therefore it's not a whole grain.

Cereal can be confusing when it comes to choosing a whole grain, partly because of fiber content. For example, Shredded Wheat (a whole grain) has less fiber than All Bran (bran isn't technically a whole grain).

Secondly, sugar added to cereal decreases the amount of fiber. Honey Nut Cheerios (a whole grain) has only 1g fiber per serving. That's because the added sugar takes the place of the whole grain, therefore there's less fiber.

When shopping for cereal:

- Choose a whole grain cereal that is ALSO high in fiber. A whole grain cereal has a whole grain as the first ingredient, usually starting with the word "whole". A high fiber cereal contains more than 5 grams fiber per serving.

- Even though bran isn't technically a whole grain, think of it as a whole grain because the high fiber in the bran has loads of benefits.

- Choose a cereal with less sugar- less than 10g sugar per serving. Sugar replaces some of the whole grain you should be eating.

- Make sure your granola is low fat.

Here's a list of some of the popular breakfast cereals and whether they're whole grains or not:


Whole Grain:
Granola or muesli
Grape Nuts
Raisin Bran
Shredded Wheat

NOT Whole Grain:
Corn Flakes
Frosted Flakes
Just Right
Corn Pops
Puffed Wheat
Rice Krispies
Special K


Whole Grain:
Oat Bran
Quaker Multigrain

NOT Whole Grain:
Cream of rice
Cream of Wheat


Chow and Chatter said...

excellent post will link to my blog Rebecca

Anonymous said...

wow! thank you for this great info. I had no idea that All Bran was not whole-grain! they sure do love to trick the consumers! I'll keep my eyes open next time.

Sybil Hebert, RD said...

Thanks guys!

Sweta said...

As always great post Sybil!!

Sweta said...

Have also put a link to this!Check out my new post: "Trying to get rid of belly fat? Try whole grains".

Sybil Hebert, RD said...

Thanks Sweta- your post is great, as usual, as well!! :)