The Whole Story of Grains

w breaed 4In case you haven’t noticed, dietitian’s are somewhat strange unique individuals.  Or maybe I’m just a unique individual and it has nothing to do with me being a dietitian? Either way, I definitely have my quirks.  For example, I love to read food labels (does anyone else do this in the grocery store?).  I know the calorie content of way more foods than I should.  And, I asked for a wheat grinder for Christmas.  Not clothes, or jewelry, or purses or whatever it is adult women ask for.  A wheat grinder.  Why? Because I wanted to be able to make whole wheat flour of course.  Doesn’t everyone?  To get to the point, whole wheat and other whole grains are an important part of nourishing our little sprouts but, just like drinks, the world of whole grains can be a little bit tricky to navigate.  Hopefully today we can clear up the mysteries of whole grains and help you and your kiddos understand why they’re important and where we get them.  

You’ve probably heard that whole grains are good for you, but I think it’s important to understand the WHY behind statements like that (I was obviously one of those precious children constantly asking why, why, why…).  For starters, whole grains contain fiber.  Fiber really deserves its own post but, in a nutshell, fiber helps keep us regular, lowers cholesterol, helps control appetite, helps control blood sugar, and basically is wonderful and hugely important in our kid’s diet.   Whole grains contain a variety of B vitamins your little one needs including riboflavin, niacin, and folate. (which help make their hair and skin healthy, among other things, and what 3 year old doesn’t want gorgeous shiny locks?!)  Whole grains also contain iron, magnesium, and selenium which, just take my word for it, are very important for your growing sprout.  All good things right??

Now that we all understand why we need whole grains, let’s talk about where we get them.  Any grain we eat can be a whole grain, it just means that when ground, all parts of the grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) were included and less processing occurred (refined grains only contain the endosperm).  Examples include: corn, brown rice, buckwheat, wheat, popcorn, barley, rye and oats.  Half of your sprout’s grains should come from whole grains but just because an item is labeled “whole grain” does not actually mean that it is made entirely with whole grains.  Confusing right? Well, here are the three places to look to make sure you’re not being duped by the food industry into buying brown bread that has the same nutritional benefits as a marshmallow.   100 wW

  1. On the package it should say “100% whole wheat/grain”.  If that 100% isn’t somewhere on the package (it’s typically right in front), it probably isn’t really WHOLE grain.  FullSizeRender 6
  2. The ingredients list (remember how reading nutrition facts is my grocery store hobby??).  The first ingredient should say whole grain/oat/corn/wheat (you get the idea).  If it says enriched anything in the ingredients list (even if it says enriched wheat) it’s not actually 100% whole grain.  {If you’re currently thinking, forget 100% whole grains, I just want to get my kid to eat any whole grains, never fear.  Try to find products where whole (insert grain here) is listed before any “enriched” products.} stamp 4
  3. Look for the whole grain stamp.  If you haven’t noticed this on foods before now, start paying attention.  This indicates how many grams of whole grains are in that product.  Obviously, the higher the number the better.   If the product is 100% whole grain, the stamp should say so.

So there you have it.  Everything you never wanted to know about whole grains.  Next week we’ll put this into action by discussing good sources of whole grains as well as ways to encourage your little one to increase their whole grain consumption, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, use your new label reading skills to check for whole grains in what you’re buying and add a wheat grinder to your wish list… kidding about the wheat grinder part…sort of 🙂

*The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  Please consult your healthcare provider before making any diet or treatment decisions.

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