What is a Whole Grain?

Like enriched grains, whole grains are not only nutritious but also versatile and delicious. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran (outer layer) contains the largest amount of fiber, the endosperm (middle layer) contains mostly protein and carbohydrates along with small amounts of B vitamins, and the germ (inner part) is a rich source of trace minerals, unsaturated fats, B vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Health Benefits

Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet…

  • Can help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • Supports healthy digestion by consuming whole grain foods that contain fiber.
  • May help with weight management.

In addition to keeping your body healthy, the bran and germ helps to keep your skin glowing and your hair shiny.

Young woman reading labels while grocery shopping

Be a Savvy Consumer When Buying Whole Grains

  • Barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, whole-grain pastas, breads, whole-wheat flour, whole-grain cornmeal and cereals are some whole grain foods.
  • When reading food labels, look for the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list or the Whole Grain Stamp.
  • Choose products high in fiber with fewer added sugars.
  • Words like multi-grain, stone-ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain and bran don’t necessarily indicate a whole-grain food.
  • Color also is not a reliable way to pick a whole grain product. Sometimes molasses or other added ingredients give a food that nice brown color.

Kid-Tested Approved!

Yes, there are many snack options for those picky eaters! Half of a whole-grain pita pocket stuffed with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices with a dash of cinnamon is a great small bite. Or, for kids to eat on the run, combine ½ cup ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts for an on-the-go snack.

To gradually introduce whole grains to your family, you can combine whole-grain foods and enriched grain foods to achieve the daily recommended six servings of grains.