Whole-y Moley! Do You Know Your Grains?

Well I’m sure you’ve heard it by now “Make half your grains whole.” That catchy little phrase used by the USDA to encourage Americans to be aware of the grains they are consuming. Ever since this phrase created some buzz, people are aiming to eat more whole grains… but are they really eating whole grains or has marketing just made them think they are eating whole grains?

This topic first hit me when Jess and I were at the grocery store. He wanted to buy some kind of bread claiming to be wheat but it looked white and his argument was that it says “wheat.” So of course I had to explain that it is different. Unfortunately, my explanation in the middle of a ton of people and in the mudst of my obsession over the sinful scent of the bakery section came out sounding something like “it just is!!!” So for his sake and yours, I am going to break it down a little more.

A WHOLE grain is simply that. The whole entire part of the grain seed. That means that the food contains the naturally occurring bran, germ, and endosperm (take it back to science class people). It also means all the nutrients and benefits of that particular grain will be present in the food you eat.

It is important to consume whole grains because of the benefits provided by all of their nutrients! Eating whole grains has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce risk of heart disease, reduce risk of stroke, reduce risk of obesity and diabetes, and reduce the risk of some cancers. Not to mention consumption of whole grains may help with weight management and digestion.

Now, you have brown bread in your pantry with the word “wheat” on it so that means you are eating whole wheat right? WRONG. Food companies pay millions of dollars to marketing companies for a reason! Hello!

Check out some common misleading tactics to make the buyer THINK they are getting whole grains. If your label contains words such as:

fortified with…

enriched…

made with…

100% wheat (doesn’t say whole– could be refined!)…

good source of…

multigrain…

then odds are they may not be whole grains.

Look for “100% whole ____” or a Whole Grain Stamp on the package. If you still aren’t sure, flip the package around to the back and look at the ingredients. The first ingredient should read “whole” somethingome type of grain. If “whole” something is not the first ingredient (even if it is just the second ingredient) then there is a chance that there is very little whole grain in that item at all.

It is a shame that we as consumers have to do research to determine if we are buying what we think we are buying but unfortunately marketing tactics have learned how to mislead the consumer with labeling like the ones above. So… Do your homework!

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