Article I wrote for ThirdAge.com
Perhaps you’ve heard the hype around the importance of eating whole grains, but are you aware of the health benefits? Furthermore, do you know what a whole grain is, or how to know whether you’re actually eating it?
There are many products that include “whole grain” within the label, description, or ingredients. Unfortunately, this does not constitute the amount of whole grain within a product. On a positive note, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, the Whole Grains Council (WGC), was created in 2003. The council consistently strives to educate consumers about the benefits of whole grains.
According to the WGC, whole grains contain disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants, similarly to fruits and vegetables. Unlike fruits and vegetables, whole grains also contain various antioxidants, vitamin E, fiber, iron, and B vitamins. The WGC website states, “The medical evidence is clear that whole grains reduce risks of diabetes and obesity.”
Because the council is aware that grains are a healthy necessity in every diet, they’re on an ongoing mission to help Americans understand and identify whole grain products. One way in which they’ve helped is by creating the Whole Grain Stamp that appears on many products. There are two stamps to look for: the 100% stamp, which appears on food that contains nothing but whole grain; and, the basic Whole Grain Stamp, appearing on foods that include at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving. If a product is without a stamp, the WGC advises consumers to check the entire packaged product, as it will list the grams of whole grain somewhere.
Before looking for whole grain products that may or may not contain a stamp, one must know what a whole grain is. According to the WGC, there are around 14 generally accepted whole grain foods and flours that consumers are most familiar with. When consumed in a form including the bran, germ and endosperm, the 14 whole grains are: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn (including whole cornmeal and popcorn), millet, oats (including oatmeal), quinoa, rice (both brown and colored), rye, sorghum (a.k.a. milo), teff, triticale, wheat, and wild rice.
With the knowledge concerning what is and isn’t whole grain, people have a greater chance at picking up the healthiest items at the grocery store. Not only that, but the items may last longer at home. This is due to the fact that whole grains are full of fiber, which tends to be more filling, according to RealAge.com. Additionally whole grains contain far more nutrients and fiber than refined grain.
All in all, people can benefit in many ways by taking the time to make sure and consume whole grains. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should try and consume 3 servings of 16 grams of whole grain ingredients each day. If interested in more information regarding whole grains, The Whole Grains Council website, www.wholegrainscouncil.com, may be of great help.