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What Are Whole Grain Breads? Healthy Benefits of Whole Grains

Updated on July 30, 2013
What are whole grain breads?
What are whole grain breads? | Source
Diagram of a whole grain
Diagram of a whole grain | Source

What are whole grain breads?

To put it simply, whole grain breads are made from every part of the grain kernel, while refined grains use only the starchiest part of the grain kernel. Grain kernels are made up of three parts:

  • bran: the most fiber-dense part of the grain
  • endosperm: the startchy part that contains mostly carbohydrates
  • germ: the part of the kernel that germinates into a new plant, and therefore is the most nutrient-dense

Refined grains, like those used to make white bread, use only the endosperm, and therefore lose most of the fiber and nutrients that can be gained from grains! Some manufacturers add vitamins back into the bread, calling it "enriched bread", but it is still not as healthy as eating whole grains. Enriched breads do not contain the fiber and protein of whole grain, which will boost your energy and keep you full longer.

Whole grain can also be used to make flour, pasta, rice, cereal, oatmeal and many other whole grain foods.

Where can I find whole grains?

Luckily, as consumers are becoming more health-conscious, manufacturers are filling grocery aisles with more whole-grain options. You can now easily find whole grain breads, flour, tortillas, pasta, rice, cereal, and almost any other products that is made from grain.

When shopping for whole grains, don't let labels fool you. Whole grain foods will say "100% whole grain" on the label. ("100% whole wheat" is also acceptable when selecting wheat bread.) Some manufacturers will try to trick you by labeling a product "enriched," but don't be fooled. It is still not as healthy as whole grain. You may also see foods labeled "multi-grain". In most cases, multi-grain foods will use whole grains, but advertisers may still be trying to fool you by using a variety of grains, but still refining the grains and stripping them of their nutrients. Finally, note that if wheat bread is not labelled "whole wheat", it is basically the same as white bread dyed brown with molasses. It still uses refined grains. Always look for the "100% whole grain" label to be sure!

Eat This Not That - Whole Grains vs Refined Grains

Whole Grain
Refined Grain
 
Whole grain bread
White bread
 
Brown or wild rice
White rice
 
Oatmeal
Grits
 
Whole wheat flour
White or enriched flour
 
Whole wheat tortillas
Flour and corn tortillas
 
Whole wheat pasta
Standard pasta
 
Whole wheat cereal flakes
Corn flakes
 
Eat This Not That - Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

What are the benefits of whole grains?

Whole grain foods have been tied to many nutritional benefits.

  • Lowers risk of cancer
  • Higher fiber improves digestive system and helps you stay full longer
  • Antioxidants promote healthy heart, brain, and eyes, and help fight signs of aging
  • Contain natural antibiotics that lower cholesterol, fight infection, and boost immunities
  • Contain plant-based estrogen that may protect women from breast cancer
  • Encourages weight loss by filling you up faster to prevent overeating

Comments

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub! I no longer eat white bread, since it's not heart-healthy and good for you. I switched last year and buy any type of bread with grains in it, including wheat.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      3 years ago from San Francisco

      As a whole wheat/whole grain cook and baker, I am delighted to find this page here on HubPages. One fact I've not seen before is your statement about whole grains containing "natural antibiotics that lower cholesterol, fight infection, and boost immunities." I would love to read more about that and wondered if you might share your source. I will see what I can find in a search, of course.

      I'm sharing this page to my "Cooking with Whole Grains & Whole Foods" Facebook page and on Pinterest as well.

      Thank you.

    • Darren Owens profile image

      Darren Owens 

      5 years ago from Bay Area, California

      Great article! I just recently switched to whole grain bread after reading your hub, haha!

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