Whole grains contain antioxidants, phenols, lignans and saponins. These specific substances have been linked to a lower cancer risk in research studies. Therefore, it is important that we consume the majority of our grains as whole.
What Is a Whole Grain Product?
To be considered a “whole grain” product, all 3 parts of the grain must be present:
*grain kernal photo from USDA.gov
The refining process removes the bran and germ, leaving behind the starchy endosperm. Most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber are lost with the removal of the germ and the bran. This leads to an “enriched” white flour because manufacturers will try to add back some of the lost nutrients.
Identifying Whole Grains in Bread
Identifying whole grain food products can be difficult. I have found this particularly true when it comes to selecting bread. I have seen the following terms on bread labels: “whole grain”, “100% wheat”, “made with whole grains”, and “wheat”. Unfortunately none of these terms can guarantee that you have a whole grain bread. So what’s a person to do??
The best thing to do is to ignore the marketing terms on the front of the package. Go directly to the ingredients list (usually on the back or the side of the package). Look at the first ingredient listed. It should say “whole wheat flour”.
If the bread is made with a flour from a different type of grain, the first ingredient listed should say “whole grain _____ flour”. For example, whole grain oat flour or whole grain spelt flour.
The following terms will indicate a bread made with refined (non-whole grain) flour:
- enriched flour
- wheat flour
- bread flour
- enriched wheat flour.
It is possible for a bread to be made with several types of flour. The best bread choice would be made only with 100% whole wheat or whole grain flour. Avoid breads that list “enriched wheat flour” as a second or third ingredient.
Which is Better: Whole Grain or Whole Wheat Bread?
There is no “better” here…
The bottom line is that you want a bread made with whole grain flour. Whole wheat flour is a type of whole grain flour. Breads can be made with different types of flour but most often it is made with wheat flour. Use the methods above to select a bread made with whole grain flour and you can be sure that you are getting a whole grain product.
Usually a bread listed as “whole grain” will contain a variety of flours. Be wary, because all of them may not be whole grain. A refined white flour bread may also be listed as “whole grain” because it has a few whole grain pieces mixed into the dough. Just because a product is listed as “whole grain” it doesn’t mean it is. Do I need to say it again? Check the ingredients list!
Try to find a bread with the least amount of additives. Look for one with the shortest ingredient list. Pay attention to the sugar content. Mostly all breads have sugar or honey added. It may be difficult to find one without sugar. Compare the sugar content on the ingredient label with other breads until you find the lowest. Also keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of amount present. The first ingredient listed will be present in the largest quantity. This can be especially helpful when deciphering sugar content.
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post to learn even more about whole grains!
Tell me what you think. Leave a comment in the comments section below!
bread photo by: Beckman’s Old World Bakery