What is a whole grain food?
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what exactly is a whole grain. You wouldn’t think it would be that complicated, but the the food makers are experts at confusing the consumer. Labels everywhere talk about how their bread or cereal is a good source of whole grains. They mention that their food comes from a whole grain and then imply that you are eating a whole grain food. But are you? You aren’t.
Products that are made from whole grain FLOUR are NOT the same as eating whole grain. Whole grain foods are generally made from wild rice, millet, quinoa, barley, seeds, or wheat berries. These go into the food (bread, cracker, cereal) in their WHOLE, or original form. You will physically see the grain or seed, and have to chew it to eat it. This is very different from whole grain flour. Flour is where the grain has been ground before it is used. Whole wheat bread, for example, is brown, but does not have the seed or actual grain in it.
I do not want to dismiss eating foods made from whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is good, and a good step in the right direction in terms of having a higher fiber and vitamin content than regular white bread. However, if you are looking for a food that has a lower glycemic index than white bread, the whole wheat bread is not going to be that much better. They are both around 70 on the glycemic index.
Whole grain foods are a little trickier to find and tend to cost a little bit more. Many times these products will be found more readily in markets that have organic foods, and they are frequently in the freezer section. They don’t have as long a shelf life, so they have to be kept frozen.
As always, variety is important and so is taste. You have to find the balance that works for you and your wallet. Choosing more whole grain foods is a good goal, but you don’t have to accomplish it overnight. Start slowly and find foods that you enjoy eating. Remember, drinking lots of water is VERY important when you start increasing the fiber content of your diet. 🙂