Whole grains have been shown to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. The 2012 Dietary Guidelines recommend that half of your grains consumed be whole grain. So what exactly is the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain?
A refined grain is one that has both the bran and the germ removed from the grain kernel. The bran is high in fiber and protein while the germ is high in vitamins, minerals, and “good” fat. All that remains after this is removed is the starchy inner core, called the endosperm, which is then used to make white bread and other white flour products. Sometimes, the white flour is enriched with a couple of the nutrients that are lost from the refining process, but not all of them! Thus, whole-wheat flour is the healthier option when debating over white and wheat.
Besides whole-wheat, other examples of whole grains include oat, barley, brown rice, quinoa, rye, and popcorn!
Quick Tip: When reading food labels, look for whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient, not white, wheat, enriched white, etc! Food companies like to trick you into believing their product is extra good for you!
A great website to learn more about whole grains: http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/