The Whole Story on Whole Grains

Whole grains. Our doctors tell us to eat more. Food is labeled to help us choose more. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) daily food recommendations focus on them. But what exactly is a whole grain?

The USDA categorizes any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or any other cereal grain as a grain product, and divides grains into two groups: refined and whole.

Refined grains have been milled to remove the exterior of the grain kernel to make them finer and last longer. This process also unfortunately removes important nutritional elements like dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Refined grain products include white flour, white bread, and white rice.

Whole grains, on the other hand, have all parts of the kernel intact. Some examples are whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn. For optimum health, the USDA recommends at least half of your daily intake of grains be of the whole grain variety.

A new proposal to better define whole grains is afoot from the cereal science organization AACC International, which recommends a whole grain product should contain 8g or more of whole grains per 30g serving to qualify. Stay tuned.

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