Did you know that most U.S. adults are only consuming half of the recommended amount of daily fiber? Most of this goes back to the underconsumption of whole grains. It’s kind of a crazy story. In the 19th century, the growing industry of mass food production started removing the bran and germ from grains to give grain-based products longer shelf life.

The result was products with way fewer nutrients – whoops! Fortunately, folks have figured this out, and today, we have the option to choose whole grain products.

What are the benefits of Whole Grains?

The dietary fiber from whole grains helps to reduce cholesterol levels the risk of heart disease. Whole grains also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants naturally. The white bread of the world has to be fortified with supplements to try and measure up.

So we know we want to eat more whole grains, but in a world where “healthy” and “natural” labeling is often misleading, how do we choose the right options? Well, we’ve got some interesting facts to help you tackle the bread aisle!

What ingredients are considered Whole Grains?

A whole grain is classified by the component of the grain kernel that is included in the food item. If the item includes the bran, germ, and endosperm, the classification can be considered whole grain. Brown rice and quinoa are examples of whole grains, as are oats, popcorn, barley, and buckwheat.

What about Multigrain?

This is a prime example of a buzzword to be aware of! Multigrain does not specify if the grain is still whole or has been processed. A good way to test this is to check out the actual bread composition. If you can see seeds, nuts, and grains in your bread, you should be in the clear, but you can also look for Whole Grain Stamps!

What’s a Whole Grain Stamp?

Thankfully, the Whole Grain Council has created stamps that help us navigate the whole grain debate. We’re going to learn about each stamp, in order of left to right.

100% Stamp If the food item has the 100% stamp, all the grains within the food are whole grain. In addition, there must be a minimum of 16 grams of whole grains per serving.

50%+ Stamp If the item has the 50%+ stamp, then at least half of the grains must be whole grain. Within this classification, each serving must contain 8 grams of whole grains. This stamp was added to the classification as of January 2017.

Basic Stamp This classification of grain essentially means that the product must contain 8 grams (a half serving) of whole grains, but it can also contain grains that have been refined.

Moving Forward…

It’s important to remember that we should opt for whole grains whenever possible and aim to avoid refined grains. At least half of the grain we consume each day should be whole grains.

Here are a few simple swaps with a major impact:

  • White Bread to Whole Grain Bread (look for the stamp!)
  • White Rice to Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Bulgar, or a mix of these
  • Generic Cereal to Oatmeal, Overnight Oats, Whole Grain Avocado Toast, or cereal with the Whole Grain Stamp
  • Chips to Popcorn (ideally, air-popped)

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