Figuring out whether your bread, pasta, cereal, etc is really whole grain can be tough, because there are so many terms & words used on packaging to make you think a product is healthy, even if it's not. Here are some of the most common terms defined, to help you make an informed decision about what products to buy:
100% Whole Grain
- No refined grains or refined flour was used
- Means product has fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and slows digestion so that you stay full for longer, and end up eating less.
- If something is 100% whole grain, it should have at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories.
- Note: there may be other grains used in addition to wheat, like oats, oat bran, spelt, flax, rye, or barley flour. These are all "whole grains."
- This is a good sign. Buy products that say this.
100% Whole Wheat
- Made with only whole wheat flour, no refined flours
- If you read the ingredients list, you should see that the ONLY flours listed are stone-ground whole wheat, 100% whole wheat, or whole wheat.
- When buying bread, look for "100% whole wheat" on the label
- This means nothing, because ALL bread (except gluten-free) is wheat bread. What you want is whole wheat.
- If you read the ingredients list and see "enriched wheat flour," or "unbleached wheat flour," or "fortified wheat flour" -- don't be fooled, these are not whole grains!
- Has at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 3 grams of fat per serving
- Good because fiber helps fill you up, and keep you fuller for longer
Good Source of Fiber
- Has 2.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving
- May or may not be 100% whole grain, but if the ingredients are all whole grains, then it is
More Fiber or Added Fiber
- Has at least 2.5 grams more fiber per serving than the regular version of the food
- Watch out! -- many products that have tons of fiber (like 10-25 grams/serving) have all sorts of unnatural additives to make them higher in fiber -- and these added fibers do not have the same beneficial effects on health as naturally occurring fiber -- so just be aware of this if you choose to buy these products.
- Good clues that a product is high in synthetic fiber (not the naturally-occurring kind):
- If the product is white, like a "country white bread" but has fiber -- clearly the product is not whole grain because it's white & refined, so you know the fiber is from an additive, not from the grain itself
- If the product is not the type of food that would normally have fiber (a grain, fruit, or vegetable) -- like a Pop Tart, candy, beverage, or yogurt.
Made with Whole Grains
- There might be whole grains in the product, but the product is not 100% whole grain
- This is a company's try at getting you to believe their product is completely whole grain, even though it's not
* picture from www.applepiepatispate.com website