What’s in a Whole Grain
You’re on it. You know whole grains are good for you and your family, but do you really know what’s in a whole grain? What makes it whole to begin with? Let’s take a look.
What is a Whole Grain?
According to the Whole Grains Council, “Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.” That means that 100% of the original kernel must be present in a food in order for it to be labeled as a whole grain, and if the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded or cooked, it will still deliver the same balance of nutrients. Compare that to whole wheat flour, which is milled from the whole wheat kernel (a whole grain), and the flour can end up missing up to 5% of the grain kernel; in fact, research from the Healthy Grains Institute states that most of the germ and bran are also removed to prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour.
What’s in a Whole Grain?
While a wheat kernel may just seem like a wheat kernel, grains have an anatomy all their own. A grain has three main parts and they all must be present in the same proportions as when it was grown in the field in order to qualify as a whole grain. These parts are:
The Bran: the multi-layered protective skin of the edible kernel.
The Germ: the grain embryo, which when sprouted, can grow into a new plant.
The Endosperm: the largest portion of the kernel and the germ’s food supply and energy command centre. The endosperm has the ability to send roots into the earth to collect water and nutrients and grow sprouts above ground to harness the sun’s power for photosynthesis.
Why Should the Grain Stay Whole?
Different parts of the grain have different nutrient stores. Here’s a quick look at what those nutrients are according to what part of the grain they’re stored in.
The bran: antioxidants, B vitamins, and fibre.
The germ: B vitamins, protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
The endosperm: mostly made up of starchy carbohydrates but also contains small amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
You can see then, that when the grain is not kept whole, the balance of Mother Nature’s design is thrown off. That’s why when you eat white bread, where only the starchy endosperm of the grain is used, you will mostly likely feel a blood-sugar rush, followed by a crash—you’re missing out on the essential vitamins and minerals in the bran and germ.
We tend to believe that as a rule, foods that are left whole are better for you. That’s why we use a variety of different whole grains in our breads, buns, and bagels, so you have complete access to all of the amazing nutrients found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, amaranth, and more. The Whole Grains Council’s Whole Grain Stamp is a quick and easy way to help you identify whole grain foods when you are grocery shopping, and you can find it on the packaging of all your favourite Sprouted Power™ foods.
Want to learn more about our whole grain approach?