Experimenting with Whole Grains

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin RHN


The health benefits of whole grains are vast in comparison to their nutrient-depleted refined grain counterparts.  A whole grain has all its original parts intact, meaning it contains the fiber-rich bran, the nutrient rich germ, and the starchy endosperm. When a grain is refined, the bran and germ are removed, and most of the fiber, protein, and a number of vitamins and minerals are removed, too.

Because food, by definition, has to contain nutrients, refined grains are required to be enriched, meaning that some of the lost nutrients — thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, iron, and folic acid — must be synthetically added back in. Nutrients that are not replaced are vitamins E, K, and B-6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, protein, and fiber.

Careful when purchasing whole grain products, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking a food is a whole grain when it’s not. Just because a grain product is dark doesn’t necessarily mean it is a whole grain. Sometimes molasses or caramel coloring is added to breads, darkening them.  Unless a grain ingredient is listed as “whole,” it is a refined flour and not a whole grain. See below for a list of  my favourite whole grains.

  • Brown rice (regular, not quick)
  • Whole or rolled oats (not quick or instant)
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild rice
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Kasha
  • Cracked wheat, also called bulgur
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Whole rye
  • Kamut

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