How to find whole grains in the grocery store

By  | 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal cancers, and can help maintain healthy body weight. The fiber in whole grain aids digestion helps to reduce cholesterol levels and manage blood glucose, plus keeps us full longer.

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains
Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Bran, which is the outer portion of the grain containing fiber, minerals, B Vitamins, and phytochemicals. The germ is the small, inner portion of the grain containing B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, phytochemicals and minerals. The third part is endosperm, the starchy inner portion containing carbohydrates, protein, and B vitamins.

Refined grains contain only endosperm. They are processed in a way that removes the bran and germ, thus protein, fiber, and other important nutrients are reduced. Often times theses grains are enriched to add those nutrients back in, but often times not to the original level of nutrition.

The Stamp Makes It Easy
The 100% stamp assures you that a food contains a full serving (16g) or more of whole grain in each serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain. The 50%+ stamp and the basic stamp appear on products containing at least half a serving (8g) of whole grain per serving.

How Much Do I Need?
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2015, recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that's at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains. Even children need 2 to 3 servings or more.

One serving is 16g of whole grains
1 Slice of whole wheat bread, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, 3 cups of popcorn, ½ cup brown rice
48g of whole grains per day
Choose 3 servings of food with the 100% stamp
Or choose 6 servings of food with any stamp

Spot Tricky Labels
A trip down the bread and cereal aisles can be pretty confusing for consumers. Some products may look like a great choice but aren't necessarily the best choice or even whole grain. Reading labels carefully is important.

The term '100% wheat' means that only wheat was used, but it doesn't indicate that it's the entire whole grain kernel.

A label might say 'multi-grain', this simply means multiple kinds of grain were used, and not necessarily that each of those grains were whole.

The term 'made with whole grains' could mean it contains some whole grain, but oftentimes it's so little of an amount it doesn't even qualify for the whole grains stamp- which is a minimum of 8g of whole grains per serving.

Cereal and granola bars might be made with whole grains and have the stamp, but the nutrition label shows 10-15g of sugar, often more sugar than the amount of whole grains!

Check out the ISU Extension & Outreach Whole Grains publication for information on over 20 different kinds of whole grains, including basic cooking directions, nutrition facts, and serving suggestions! More helpful tips can be found on the shop: aisle by aisle tab on the spend smart eat smart website.