Health experts advise everyone that grains are a healthy necessity in every diet, and that it’s important to eat at least half our grains as “whole grains.” But what exactly IS a whole grain? And why does it matter? All grains start life as whole grains. In their natural state growing in the ?elds, whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. This seed (which industry calls a “kernel”) is made up of three key edible parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Re?ning normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, and are greatly reduced in at least seventeen key nutrients.
A grain is the edible seed inside a cereal crop. These grains are comprised of four parts: the husk, the bran, the endosperm and the germ. The husk is inedible and has to be removed before it can be consumed. The bran is a thick inner covering that is made up of several layers. The germ is the part of the grain that produces the sprout for a new plant to grow, and the endosperm is the soft inner part of the grain that provides nourishment for the seed after it is germinated. A whole grain is one with all these components except the husk, if the grain no longer has the bran or germ there will be a loss of nutrients.
- Whole grains fiber, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals like B & E vitamins, magnesium and iron in higher levels than refined grain.
- Whole grains also reduce risks of heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, and obesity if consumed in proper portions.
There are many different varieties of whole grains, some of the most common are: barley, buckwheat, chia, corn, flaxseed, oats, quinoa, rye, whole wheat and rice.
Kid-Friendly Eating Tips
- Swap regular sandwich bread with whole grain bread or wraps.
- Bake whole grain cookies for a healthier alternative.
- Make pizza using whole grain pizza dough.
- Make popcorn and top with a very small amount of butter and salt.
- Be aware of product descriptions at the store. Multigrain is not the same as whole grain, this just means that the product contains more than one grain. Make sure the ingredients include whole grains and refined grains are not the main ingredients.
- When buying whole grains make sure they appear dry and do not have any strange odor. Grains should smell slightly sweet or odorless when fresh.