White, Whole-Wheat, Whole Grain... What does this mean? - ONIE Project

White, Whole-Wheat, Whole Grain... What does this mean?

Posted by ONIE Project on 03/20/2013

It’s Saturday, so I decide to go grocery shopping. As I stroll to the bread aisle, I quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of bread before me. I begin to wonder how I should make this decision. So, I did some research, and wanted to share what I found!  When it comes to grains, it is suggested that the average person should consume 5-8 servings of grains a day. Well, that is a little bit tricky. Does that mean I can have five hot dog buns from the ballpark, and still be eating healthfully? Absolutely not. The key word when it comes to choosing healthful grains is “whole.” This doesn’t mean eat the “whole” loaf of bread. It means eat “whole” grain products. In fact, we should make 50-100% of our grains whole. So, how do we choose these more healthful options?

ONIE Project: White, Whole-Wheat, Whole GrainONIE Project: White, Whole-Wheat, Whole Grain

Let’s talk about grains for a minute. The grain plant has grain seeds. Grain seeds have three layers. When these seeds are gathered for harvesting, they can be processed in many ways.  One option is refining. In this process, the grain seed is stripped down to a bare minimum; a large portion of nutrients are removed. Another processing option is the whole grain process. In this type of processing, the entire grain seed is left whole with all three layers of the seed still in place. This means that all of the nutrients are still available for the body to receive all of the healthful benefits. So, whole grain is definitely the way to go, especially when choosing between whole grain products or refined products.

ONIE Project: White, Whole-Wheat, Whole Grain

Now, let’s look back at the bread shelf in front of us.  A quick way to tell if bread is refined is to look for names like: white breads, wheat, and white-wheat breads. Check to see if bread is whole grain by looking for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat labels. Now, you are probably wondering which of these options is more healthful? Whole grain products are no better for you than whole wheat products. In fact, they are very much the same. Whole wheat products are simply one type of whole grain. In either case, all three parts of the grain seed are present.  If you choose whole wheat or whole grain, you are making a wise and healthful decision.


ONIE Project: White, Whole-Wheat, Whole Grain


Some Examples


100% Whole Grain

Barley, Quinoa, Oats, Cornmeal, Whole Wheat, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Cracked Wheat, Bulgur, Buckwheat


100% Whole Wheat

Whole Wheat Pasta, Whole Wheat Bread, Whole Wheat Tortilla, Whole Wheat English Muffin, Whole Wheat Flour


Refined Grain

White Rice, Flour Tortilla, White Bread, White-Wheat Bread, White Pasta, Most Baked Goods (cookies, muffins, cakes, etc.)


The next time you are trying to select healthful grains at your local grocery store, the decision does not have to be so stressful. Choose 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain –both contain healthful nutrients. On the other hand, only buy refined products in moderation because these are missing nutrients. Hope this posts helps you have a fiber full day! ~Tess (ONIE guest writer)



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