July 14, 2009

What is a Whole Grain?

A whole grain food will generally contain more fiber per serving than a refined or processed grain. According to the Whole Grain Council, a whole grain product is a food that contains the essential parts and nutrients that occur naturally in grains (excluding the husk).

After the husk of a whole grain has been discarded, the three remaining parts of a whole grain are:

  1. The bran - outer layer that contains fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc & other micronutrients
  2. The endosperm - middle layer and starchy carbohydrate component with a bit of other nutrients
  3. The germ - innermost compartment with unsaturated fat, B vitamins and other vitamins & minerals

If you keep all three parts together - the bran, endosperm and germ - the ensuing product is a whole grain ingredient. Refined grain processing - which results in lower fiber products - discards the bran and the germ, keeping only the endosperm, and leading to a lower-fiber grain product.