How to Spot Real Whole Grains

Written By: Christina Newberry

Last Updated on:

Now that the Whole Grains Month is over, it’s time to provide some impostor-spotting strategies for one of our favorite sources of nutrition: whole grains. You’re always hearing that you should eat more whole grains, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell which products in the grocery store actually offer the whole grain kick you’re looking for. In fact, if you’re relying on whole grain logos and claims to judge your whole grain intake, you may be getting much less than you think.

The truth is, even though food companies are launching new whole grain products like crazy, we’re still eating less than one-third of the recommended daily amount of whole grains. Since whole grains offer benefits like lowering cholesterol levels, reducing risk for some types of cancer, and controlling weight, that means we’re missing out on a ton of nutritional benefits. If you think you’re one of the few who’s eating as many whole grains as you should, you might want to take a closer look at your sources of whole grains: Have you really checked them out, or are you simply believing a claim on a box? Here are our top three ways to identify impostors, spot whole grains, and incorporate more of them into your diet.

Top Three Ways to Get Real Whole Grains

  • Be a skeptic: Many products are plastered with whole grain logos and claims. But the only logo that’s regulated is the one from the Whole Grains Council, which looks like a postage stamp and says “” on the side. Other whole grain logos may mean the product has only a small portion of whole grains – and they certainly do not indicate a 100% whole grain product.
  • Look at the list: The simplest and most reliable way to tell if a product really is a good source of whole grains is to look at the ingredients list. If the first ingredient (not the second or the third) says “whole,” the product is a good source of whole grains.
  • Go beyond breakfast: Many people rely on cereals and breads for their whole grains, but there are many non-breakfast options that add variety to your whole grain repertoire and increase whole grain consumption by adding whole grains to the dinner table. Barley, millet, bulgur, quinoa, and brown rice are all whole grains that can easily be used as the foundation of an excellent dinner dish and simply topped with whatever you would usually put on pasta or served as a replacement for white rice.

The Bottom Line

Are the grain products you’re eating really giving you the benefits of whole grains? Take a look at the grain products in your cupboards and you may be surprised what these tips reveal about the actual amount of whole grains they contain. Rather than relying on logos and claims, check the ingredients list for that simple word, “whole.” Then incorporate some whole grains into non-breakfast meals to add an extra whole grain serving to your day.

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