Friday, August 6, 2010

Whole Grains

Have you been trying to eat more whole grains and/or serve more whole grains to the kids in your care?  If you said yes, you are not alone!  According to a recent study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, most people are trying to consume more whole grains.  The study found that 73% of the respondents said that they were trying to eat more whole grains, and 72% were trying to include more fiber in their diets.  This is very encouraging, however, the study also showed that many people are still confused about just why they should be eating more whole grains.  

What are whole grains?  All grains start life as whole grains.  For example, wheat plants growing out in a field contain wheat seeds.  The wheat seeds, or "kernels" are whole grains.  Seeds contain 3 key parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.  To be considered a whole grain, the seed must retain all of its 3 key parts.  When grains are refined, such as when "white" flour is made from wheat seeds, some of the 3 key parts are removed.  White flour (also known as "wheat" flour on food labels) contains only the starchy endosperm of the seed, the bran and the germ have been removed.  This strips important nutrients from the flour.  Food manufacturers often "enrich" the flour and add back some of the missing nutrients, but they do not add them all back.

What do you miss by eating refined grains?  The bran which contains antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber and the germ which contains B vitamins, protein, minerals, and healthy fats.  When the bran and germ are removed you lose 17 key nutrients and food processors are only required to add back 5 of the lost vitamins and minerals.  They cannot add back the antioxidants.

Why are whole grains important in the diet? The medical benefits of eating 3 servings of whole grains per day instead of refined include:
  • better weight maintenance
  • decreased stroke risk
  • decreased type 2 diabetes risk
  • decreased heart disease risk
  • decreased risk of some cancers.

Your next question may be "That's all great but how do I know which products are truly whole grain"?  This is an excellent question because food companies often engage in deceptive practices when trying to get you to buy their product.  The answer lies in reading the labels carefully, and I have blogged previously about this here   I have also previously blogged about whole grain recipes for use in your child care home using millet, barley, and whole grains in general.

What is your favorite whole grain recipe?


  1. anything with quinoa!

  2. I love making pancakes with whole wheat flour and also I have experiemented with white whole wheat flour. The kids like whole wheat pasta too which is inexpensive at SuperTArget.