As you’ve probably heard, the best grains are whole grains! Grains are a necessity in our diet and at least half the grains we eat should be whole grains, even on the Military Diet. Especially on the Military Diet, choose whole grain bread!
The term ‘whole grain’ is confusing. What is a whole grain and why does it matter?
Whole grains are what they sound like, a complete grain that includes all the parts: the outer skin (called the bran), the germ (what becomes a plant), and the endosperm (the food supply that feeds the germ when it’s sprouting). All grain starts as whole grain out in the field, but with processing, we lose some of the most important parts. In their natural state, whole grains are the entire seed of plant. Refining often removes the skin and the germ leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, 25% of a grain’s protein is lost.
With all three parts of the grain, we get way more nutrients like protein, B vitamins, antioxidants and unsaturated fats. Whole grains like rye, barley and wheat contain fiber which is super important if you’re dieting because fiber helps control blood sugar. Also, people who eat whole grains regularly have a lower risk of obesity, lower body mass index and better waist-to-hip ratios.
So if something is whole grain, the food contains all the parts of the original seed (kernel). All parts must be present to qualify as a whole grain.
Examples of whole grains include quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley, rolled oats, and whole wheat pasta.
Interesting fact: Popcorn is a whole grain!
Pro tip: Be wary of products that say “made with whole grains.” Check out the percentage or the ranking in the ingredient list. It could mean there’s just a little bit of whole grains sprinkled in the product. Look for the label “100 percent whole-grain” or “100 percent whole-wheat.” If you’re not sure something has whole grains, check the product label or the Nutrition Facts panel. Look for the word “whole” on the package, and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list.
What’s the difference between whole grain and whole wheat?
Whole grain can be any grain that is whole. Whole wheat means the product includes the entire wheat kernel. Make sure that the label says 100% whole wheat when looking for a whole grain product. Some brown bread isn’t necessarily whole wheat just because it looks brown, the color may be added!