In this Moment of Science we discuss the importance of whole grains, as well as what they are in the first place.
I recently read somewhere that the USDA and American Dietetic Association recommend that we eat at least three servings of whole-grain foods a day.
Indeed, whole grains are an important source of fiber and antioxidants like Vitamin E and selenium. Studies have shown that people who consume more whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and digestive disorders.
The words "whole grain" refer to the entire edible part of a grain or seed. This includes three parts. One is the germ, what is also the sprout of a new plant. The second part is the endosperm, which is the seed's energy source. And third is the seed's nutrient-rich outer layer, also known as the bran. Refined grains are stripped of their bran and germ parts during milling, so they're lower in fiber and other nutrients than whole grains.
The surefire way to tell whether a bread or cereal product is whole grain is to look at the ingredients. If brown rice, whole rye, whole oats, bulgur, graham flour, whole-grain corn, oatmeal, or whole wheat is listed as the first component, the product is a whole grain. Or you can look at the fiber content. If a bread or cereal product has 2 or more grams of fiber per serving that's a fairly good indication that it is probably a whole-grain product.