What is a Whole Grain?

A whole grain is the seed of a grass. Various grasses include rice, corn, wheat, rye, quinoa, and amaranth. When you eat whole grains you are eating viable seeds – you can sprout them if you wish. Each grain has four parts: the husk, bran layer, germ/embryo, and endosperm. The husk is the papery outer covering that is always removed. Grains that have only the husk removed are considered whole grains (and will still sprout if the three other layers are still intact). The outer coating of the seed is called the bran layer. It is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The germ or embryo is the part of the seed that becomes a new plant if allowed to grow. It contains protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is the largest part of the seed. It feeds the growing embryo if allowed to sprout. The endosperm is virtually 100 percent starchy carbohydrate and is calorie rich.  When grains are refined, the endosperm is all we are eating (the bran and germ/embryo have been removed). Breads, crackers, and most baked products are made with refined flour, even if they say “whole wheat”, “multi-grain”, or “stone ground”. Most corn products have had the germ and fiber removed. Make sure you read labels carefully.  If it’s white or has less than 3 grams of fiber per 50-gram serving, the fiber has been removed. Whole grains include barley, oats, brown and wild rice, rye, spelt, wheat/wheat berries, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and kasha. Look for these grains in any grocery store. Many times they are stored in large bins. When buying any grain product make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Cereals should have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving (watch out for added sugar!). Explore and try different grains. Try different recipes. Eat a wide variety of grains. Be creative!

Author: drjeffgreenberg

Dr Greenberg is a clinical cardiologist who specializes in preventive cardiology, nutrition, exercise, and longevity. He favors using natural methods to improving one's health.

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