What Are Whole Grains?

All grains start life as whole grains. Whole grains are the entire seed of a plant and consist of three parts:

Germ: The germ is the embryo which, when fertilized by pollen, will sprout into a new plant.

Bran:The bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the kernel.

Endosperm: The endosperm is the germ's food supply. This is the wheat component used for traditional white flour.

Whole grains, or the foods made from them, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. If the grain has been processed (cracked, crushed, rolled, and/or milled into flour), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original seed.

Traditional flour-milling techniques, designed to produce the white color and smooth texture consumers now expect, sift out the bran and germ. (See Whole Grains & Human Health for highlights)

Whole grain foods provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and proteins, often with more nutrients and vitamins than even fruits and vegetables. In fact, the medical evidence is overwhelming. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in whole grains help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and cancer. Whole grain products are also excellent sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and dietary fiber.

The USDA, American Heart Association, and Department of Health and Human Services generally agree that children ages four through 18 should eat between three and six servings of whole grains daily. A typical "serving" would be a slice of bread, a bowl of cereal, or a muffin. Yet, the average school-age child in America consumes less than one serving of whole grain foods each day. The reason? Taste.

Even when considering the benefits of whole grains, people often prefer the taste and texture of foods made with refined white flour. Whole grain products just haven't made the good taste grade—until Ultragrain. To learn more about the benefits of Ultragrain, click here.

Thanks to the Whole Grains Council for providing the factual information about whole grains that is presented here. For additional articles about whole grain nutrition, go to www.wholegrainscouncil.org.

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