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How do I choose whole grain products?

Mary Mullen
Nutrition & Dietetics
Here are a few tips to help you bring home bread that’s a guaranteed whole grain winner.
  • Play the name game. Check the front of the package for words such as “whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” listed by the name of the bread. To use these words on a label, the bread must be made with the “whole” grain, including the endosperm, germ, and bran. Refined bread, often called “wheat bread,” is not whole grain bread because the germ and the bran (which provide fiber) were removed when the flour was processed.
  • Look for signs. Some bread packages sport a 100% whole grain seal on the front of the package.
  • Don’t let the color fool you. Some manufacturers make bread brown by using coloring, so don’t assume all brown breads are whole grain. On the other hand, you can now buy white whole wheat breads that have all the nutritional benefits of other whole grain breads.
  • Scan the ingredients list. For a 100% whole grain bread, the whole grain (whole wheat, whole grain oats, whole grain barley, etc.) will be the first ingredient on the list.
  • Get the fiber facts. Read the Nutrition Facts and select a whole grain bread that provides at least three grams of fiber per serving.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens

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To shop for whole grains, just be a skeptic. It takes only a few seconds. Keep scanning the aisles until you see "100% whole grains" on package labels. You can almost always bet that if the packaging doesn't say 100% on the outside, it's not going to be found on the inside.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you see the word "whole" listed in front of the grain in the ingredient list that is a clue that the product has whole grain. If you see the Whole grain Stamp on a label that can be an easy way of choosing whole grain products. The 100% Stamp means that the food contains a full serving or more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain, while the basic Whole Grain Stamp appears on products containing at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving.

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

The best way to search for a whole grain product is to look for the whole grain label symbol on the package. You cannot rely on the ingredient list as it is based on weight of ingredients so the whole grain portion of the product may not meet the definition of 51% or more of whole grain flour for example. If there is only one (whole grain) ingredient such as oats on the oatmeal label, you can be assured this is a whole grain.

Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
There are several whole grain foods that are good for the body. Choose the more intact form or coarser cut of the grain. For wheat, that means bulgur wheat (found in health food stores and Middle Eastern markets) and wheat berries. Always buy 100% whole wheat, whole rye, or other whole grain breads, cold and hot cereals, crackers, crispbreads, English muffins, bagels, and wraps, and whenever possible choose stone ground, a process that keeps the amylase-blocking substance intact. When choosing oatmeal, get steel-cut, which is the thickest cut, or thick-cut oats. (Steel-cut takes 30 minutes to cook, but some companies sell parboiled versions that are just as good and take only about 5 minutes.) Buy brown rice instead of white and whole corn grits instead of regular.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.