What are Whole Grains?

The newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that at least half of your daily grain consumption should come from whole grains. So exactly what are these “whole grains” everyone’s been buzzing about lately? And how can you include them in your daily diet? Read on to find out more.


The term “whole grain” refers to a grain (a type of seed) that is unrefined and intact ““ most other grains are stripped or pulverized during the milling process to give them a finer texture and longer shelf life.  A whole grain, however, retains all three essential parts of the seed: bran, germ and endosperm.

Nutritional Value

Whole grains pack a nutritional punch, with B-vitamins, selenium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, fiber and more. Enriched grains (refined grains with added vitamins and minerals) may contain many of these nutrients, but are typically lacking in fiber. Refined grain products that are not enriched offer very little nutritional value.

Sources of Whole Grains

Some of the most common types of whole grains include brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal, bulgur, wheat pasta, flaxseed, millet, barley, amaranth, quinoa, oats and rye. Eat more of these whole grains by including them in entrées, side dishes, baked goods and more.

When shopping for processed or premade foods (such as bread or crackers), look for products made from specific types of whole grains, or check ingredient lists for generic terms like whole wheat, whole grain or whole oats.

About Katie

Katie is a Marketing Editor (and loyal customer) at Vitacost.com. In her spare time, she enjoys biking with her husband, playing with her pets and writing bios about herself.

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