What in the World is a Whole Grain?
Recently, Trisha did a presentation at USC’s Nutrition Symposium titled “What in the World is a Whole Grain and How to Eat Them” because people are confused! There’s so much talk of getting enough whole grains, but that doesn’t do you any good if you’re not sure what they are, why they’re important, and how you can eat them.
This month, we wanted to give you some insight into the world of whole grains. Over the next 3 weeks, we’ll answer…
- What is a whole grain?
- Why it’s important to eat whole grains.
- How to eat and identify whole grains on labels.
Let’s get started!
What’s a whole grain?
To understand what a whole grain is, we first need to understand what the words “whole” and “grain” mean on their own.
What do you think of when you hear the word “whole?” The definition includes “100%”, “all” or “complete”. A whole food (or grain), is one that contains 100% of its original edible parts and nutrients.
Grains are a type of food that are classified as seeds of cereal crops. Whole grains include…
- Whole wheat
- Rolled oats
- Quinoa (technically a seed but classified as a grain)
- Brown or wild rice
There are 3 parts to a whole grain which makes it “whole.” These parts include the bran, the germ and the endosperm.
- The bran, (or the outer layer of the grain) contains B vitamins, antioxidants and FIBER! We love fiber, and we all need to eat more of it! It keeps us full, keeps our systems regular, and it only comes from plant foods (grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds).
- The germ contains fiber, B vitamins, some protein and healthy fats. This is like “the seed” that could grow into a new plant.
- The endosperm is the starchy, carbohydrate loaded portion of the grain– this is what people use when they make white flour (no bran, no germ).
When 100% whole grains are ground up into flour, it can be used to make 100% whole grain bread or pasta, which still has 100% of the original nutrients of the food which is one reason why we recommend you eat it! To learn the other reasons Columbia’s Cooking recommends you eat whole grains, be sure to check back in with us next week!
Columbia’s Cooking Challenge
Try one new whole grain this week and report back how you cooked it and how you liked it. BONUS share the recipe!
We can’t wait to see what all everyone comes up with!