The Whole Grain Maze
September 12, 2011 | Peggy Martin
Bread used to be made from either whole wheat or white flour; although, many times coloring was added to white flour to make it look darker (healthier) . Now we have “whole white bread” and many claims on the label to wade through such as 5 grams fiber, 20 grams of whole grain and 40% fiber. How do you know which is the best? What’s a person to do if we want to make half of your grains whole as recommended?
Bread is made from flour that comes from grain kernels — usually wheat. A grain kernel has three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.
Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel. Refined grains, like the flour used to make white bread, have had the bran (where most of the fiber is) and the germ (where most of the nutrients are) processed out. This leaves only the starchy endosperm, which means you miss out on essential fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Many flour and bread manufacturers enrich their bread by adding vitamins back in. But it’s still better to eat whole grains.
The bottom line……..Check the list of ingredients
If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” (such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole oats”), it is likely that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).
Whole grain and fiber are not the same
Fiber varies from grain to grain, ranging from 3.5% in rice to over 15% in barley and bulgur. What’s more, high-fiber products sometimes contain bran or other added fiber without actually having much, if any, whole grain. Both fiber and whole grains have been shown to have health benefits. But they are not interchangeable. So checking the fiber on a label is not a very reliable way to guess whether a product is truly whole grain.