Whole-grain products can be identified by the ingredients list. Typically, if the ingredient lists “whole wheat,” “whole meal,” or “whole corn” as the first ingredient, the product is a whole-grain food item.”Wheat flour” (as opposed to “whole-grain wheat flour” or “whole-wheat flour”) as the first ingredient is not a clear indicator of the product’s whole-grain content. If two ingredients are listed as grain products but only the second is listed as whole grain, the entire product may contain between 1% and 49% whole grain.
Many breads are colored brown (often with molasses or caramel color) and made to look like whole grain when they are not. In addition, some food manufacturers make foods with whole-grain ingredients, but, because whole-grain ingredients are not the dominant ingredient, they are not whole-grain products. Contrary to popular belief, fiber is not indicative of whole grains. The amount of fiber varies from grain to grain, and some products may have things like bran, peas, or other foods added to boost the fiber content.
In Canada, it is legal to advertise any food product as “whole wheat” with up to 70% of the germ removed. While the resulting product will contain the benefit of fiber in the nutritional information, it lacks the more recently discovered health benefits of antioxidants found in the wheat germ. Canadian consumers can be assured of whole-grain products by a label stating 100% whole-grain whole wheat.
Similar to the distinction between whole and refined grains is that between whole pulses (peas, beans, and other related vegetables) and refined dal (a preparation of pulses or the thick stew prepared from these).
Did You Know?
Canada’s new Food Guide recommends that you make at least half of your grain product choices whole grain each day. Whole grains are a source of fibre and are typically low in fat. A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to have a number of health benefits and may help reduce your risk of heart disease.
What Are Whole Grains?
Grains are the seeds of certain plants. The seed, or kernel, is made up of three parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ – all of which contain valuable nutrients that play an important role in your diet. There are many types of grains, including cereal grains such as wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn, wild rice, and rye, as well as pseudocereals such as quinoa and buckwheat. These grains can be either whole or refined.
Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Examples include rolled oats and brown rice. You can eat whole grains on their own or find them as ingredients in products or recipes.
What Are Refined Grains?
Refined grains are whole grains that have had the germ and the bran removed (examples include white rice, white flour, grits and cream of wheat). This results in a loss of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Some refined grains are enriched B that is, some of the lost minerals and vitamins are added back. In Canada, manufacturers are required to enrich white flour, resulting in a flour that is a significant source of several vitamins and iron. However, it still lacks some nutrients and the fibre found in whole grain flour.
Is Whole Wheat Flour Whole Grain?
In Canada, when wheat is milled to make flour, the parts of the grain are usually separated and then are recombined to make specific types of flour, such as whole wheat, whole grain, white cake and pastry flour, and all purpose white flour. If all parts of the kernel are used in the same relative proportions as they exist in the original kernel, then the flour is considered whole grain.
Under the Food and Drug Regulations, up to 5% of the kernel can be removed to help reduce rancidity and prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour. The portion of the kernel that is removed for this purpose contains much of the germ and some of the bran. If this portion of the kernel has been removed, the flour would no longer be considered whole grain.
Is My 100% Whole Wheat Bread Whole Grain?
Whole wheat bread is made with whole wheat flour. As sold in Canada, whole wheat flour may have much of the germ removed. Therefore, 100% whole wheat bread may not be whole grain – however, it remains a nutritious choice that provides dietary fibre not found in white bread.
How Do I Know If A Product Is Made With Whole Grains?
Look for the word “whole grain” on the label and in the ingredient list. Many foods containing whole grains will have the words “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain as one of the first ingredients. Products labelled with the words “multigrain,” and “organic” are not necessarily whole grain – the flour or grains in the products may be made with or consist of little or no whole grains.