Confused about Whole Grain vs Whole Wheat?

I get this question quite often so I figure I’ll share the answer with all of you.

Grains are grasses that are grown for the edible components of their seeds.  A whole grain is the whole part that’s edible of any grains (see list below).  Whole wheat is one of those grains.

The following is a list of commonly known grains:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat*
  • Rye
  • Quinoa*
  • Millet
  • Amaranth*
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

*not real grasses, considered as pseudocereals

Most of the fiber and vitamins/minerals come from the bran and the germ parts of the grain.  When the grain is milled, the germ and the bran are stripped away leaving behind the endosperm, which is how white flour is produced.  Because this flour does not contain any vitamins or minerals, the government has required that iron and B-vitamins are added back in to the flour, hence the name “enriched wheat.”

The whole edible parts of the grain include the following:

  1. Bran:  the outer layers of the grain that supplies antioxidants, B vitamins, trace minerals, and dietary fiber.
  2. Endosperm: the inner part of the grain with most of the proteins and carbohydrates and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Germ:  the small but very important part; it sprouts, generating a new plant.  It is rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, trace minerals, antioxidants and essential fats.

Here are some tips on how to select healthy options of bread/pastas:

  1. Look at the ingredients label on the product.  Look for the words “whole grain”, “whole wheat”, or “100% whole grain.”  You would want to purchase this product.
  2. If you see the word “enriched” or “wheat flour” do not purchase.  Wheat flour is another name for white flour!  Do NOT be fooled by the words on the package—it’s just advertising!
  3. Beware of breads labeled as “7-grain” or “multigrain” as these may or may not be true whole grains; it could just be a marketing ploy.  The only way to know for sure is to read the ingredients label.
  4. Pay attention to the amount of dietary fiber on the label; if the product is a whole grain, it will be high in dietary fiber.

FYI: Reduce your risk of heart disease by eating whole grains 


2 thoughts on “Confused about Whole Grain vs Whole Wheat?

  1. Hi, While searching for the details of whole grain , to understand them vividly, and what all come under the list, happen to see this.

    Very much informative, in a very abridged explanation. Good work..

    Appreciation ………………

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