Whole Grain FAQs

What are whole grains?

In their natural state, grain kernels have three parts. The bran is the outer layer of the seed. It contains fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Inside the seed is the germ, which contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including antioxidants, that are know for their disease-fighting properties, and the endosperm, which contains carbohydrates and B vitamins. Whole grain foods contain the entire grain kernel. Many foods, however, are made with refined grains that have the bran and germ removed.

How do whole grains stack up against other foods when it comes to phytonutrients?

Whole grains have up to five times more antioxidant activity than do common fruits and vegetables. Some of the antioxidants in whole grains are not even found in fruits and vegetables—you can only get them in whole grains.

What is fiber?

Read the ingredient list on all food packages and look for the word “whole”  before any grain named first in the list. If you see words such as whole wheat, 100% whole wheat, whole oats, etc., the food contains whole grain. You can also look for the following FDA-approved health claim on the package: “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.”  If you see this statement, it means that the food contains 51% or more of whole grain ingredients by weight.

Are products made with stone-ground flour or cracked wheat good sources of whole grains?
If you see words such as stone-ground, wheat, 7-grain, organic, cracked wheat, multigrain, and bran on the ingredient list, the food may not contain a beneficial level of whole grain. While there are health benefits to eating these foods, you will get more benefits by looking for whole grain foods.
Is there a whole grain stamp I can look for on a package?
There are no federal guidelines for such claims as a “good source”  or “excellent source”  of whole grains. The Whole Grains Council (WGC), an industry consortium, has created whole grain stamps that food companies can put on their packaging. According to the WGC, its basic stamp guarantees you at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving. Click here for more information about the WGC stamps.
What about white bread?
White bread, such as Sunbeam and Bunny breads, can be part of a healthy diet. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend 6 servings of grain-based foods, 3 of which should be whole grain. The remaining 3 servings can come from other grain-based foods. White breads are enriched with iron and B vitamins--niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and folic acid. These nutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of nutrition-related diseases, such as anemia, beriberi, pellagra, and birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. Folic acid also may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Some white breads, such as Nature’ s Own Whitewheat, also are an excellent source of calcium and a good source of fiber. White breads offer many nutritional benefits plus the mild taste and soft texture many adults and children prefer.
How much whole grain do I need?

Experts recommend people eat at least 3 to 6 servings of whole grains foods each day for optimal health. A serving is approximately one ounce, or one slice of 100% whole wheat bread, ½ cup of brown rice or one ounce of whole grain breakfast cereal. Put another way, people should eat 48 grams of whole grains daily.

Are all whole grains high in fiber?

Some whole grain foods have more fiber than others. For example, 100% whole wheat bread has more fiber than brown rice. But, even those whole grains with less fiber have the health promoting benefits of whole grains.

Are high fiber foods a good source of whole grains?

Just because a food is high in fiber does not mean it is a good source of whole grain. Many high fiber foods, such as bran cereals, have little if any whole grain. In fact, it is rare to find a whole grain food with more than 4 grams of fiber, unless an isolated fiber, such as bran, has been added. High-fiber foods might not contain the important nutrients found in whole grain. To maximize health benefits, make sure it’ s made with whole grain!

How much fiber do I need?

Experts recommend women consume 21-25 grams and men consume 30-38 grams of fiber each day.

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