The word is out: Whole grain is good for you. But do you know how to find these whole grains at your grocery store? Here’s some help.
Whole Grain Myth: If a product says it’s 100% wheat, that means it’s whole grain.
Whole Grain Fact: That’s not necessarily true—just as the terms “multigrain,” “cracked wheat,” “pumpernickel,” “bran,” “organic” and “stone ground” don’t mean whole grain. Foods made with whole grain will list a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats, whole corn or brown rice, near the top of the ingredient list. You’ll know if it’s whole grain if the phrase “whole” or “whole grain” appears before the name of the grain in the ingredient list, as in “whole grain oats.” Whole grains include whole wheat, wild rice, brown rice, whole oats, oatmeal, buckwheat, whole rye, whole grain corn, popcorn, bulgur and millet.
Some products carry the whole grain stamp from the Whole Grains Council, a voluntary program that identifies foods with at least 8 grams of whole grains. But not all whole grain products have the label.
Whole Grain Myth: Processed foods do not contain whole grain.
Whole Grain Fact: Foods that provide whole grain contain all three components of the grain kernel—the bran, germ and endosperm. Foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, breads, pastas and pizza crusts can contain whole grain and are readily available. That means it’s easier than ever to consume whole grain daily.
Whole Grain Myth: If it’s high in fiber, then it must be whole grain.
Whole Grain Fact: “Both whole grains and fiber are good for you, but they’re not interchangeable,” says Cynthia W. Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for the Whole Grains Council. All whole grains contain some fiber, ranging from as little as 3.5% for brown rice to more than 15% for most kinds of barley. But some high-fiber foods contain little, if any, whole grain. For example, some grain products are enriched with bran, which is high in fiber but is not a whole grain. Reading product labels for fiber content is not a reliable way to tell if a food is whole grain. Your best bet is to check the ingredient list for the phrases “whole wheat” or “whole [some other grain]” or look for the Whole Grains Council stamps or other guarantees of whole grain.
Whole Grain Myth: Whole grains are brown.
Whole Grain Fact: You can’t tell a whole grain by its color. Ingredients such as molasses and caramel food coloring can give grains a brown appearance, which many people associate with whole grains. On the flip side, some foods made with whole grain are lighter in color, such as those containing oatmeal, rice, corn or whole white wheat.