What Are Whole Grain Breads? Healthy Benefits of Whole Grains
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 bread
Brown or wild rice
Whole wheat flour
White or enriched flour
Whole wheat tortillas
Flour and corn tortillas
Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat cereal flakes
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