Question: I am wondering which foods best fit into the "whole grains" category and what are the nutritional differences between whole wheat breads and baked goods and whole grain products? Right now we eat 100-percent whole wheat breads and high fiber cereals, but I would like to be able to go beyond that, but I'm not sure what to consider.
Rene - About.com User
Answer: Whole grains have intact outer coverings, or hulls, while refined grains have had the hulls removed. Whole grains appear to be better for your health, but many people still prefer the flavor and texture of refined grains in breads, cereals, pastries, other baked goods and pasta.
We usually think of wheat as as the most common whole grain, but there are others. Brown rice is considered a whole grain. Quinoa, bulger, corn, buckwheat, oats, whole spelt and wild rice are all whole grains. Wild rice, corn and quinoa are not technically grains either (they're seeds), but they get lumped into the grains and cereals category with the true grains.
Choose More Whole Grains
There are a number of ways to incorporate more whole grains into your diet. Brown and wild rice can be eaten as side dishes, and oats can be eaten as oatmeal or used to make granola.
Quinoa can be served as a hot cereal or as a side dish. Spelt flour can be used to make spelt bread. Corn can be a vegetable, ground into cornmeal or popped as popcorn.
Whole Grain Recipes
- Amaranth Pilaf
- Wild Rice with Cranberries and Apples
- Greek Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Oatmeal Granola Bars
- Homemade Protein Bars
- Gluten-Free Buckwheat and Honey English Muffin Recipe
Whole Grain Vs. Whole Wheat
There isn't much of a nutritional difference between 100-percent whole wheat bread and 100-percent whole grain bread so you can choose whichever version you think tastes better.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, one slice of whole grain bread and one slice of whole wheat bread have almost identical nutritional values. One slice of whole grain bread has about 70 calories, 2.0 grams fiber, 27 milligrams calcium, 20 milligrams magnesium, 0.65 milligrams iron, and 1.1 milligrams niacin (a B-complex vitamin).
United States Department of Agriculture. "National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference." Accessed October 5, 2011. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/.