Whole wheat versus whole grain foods – Which is better?

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Whole wheat vs. whole grain foods – do you know the difference? With so many of both on store shelves these days, it can be a lot easier to get your fiber and eat healthier foods. But it can also be confusing to know what to choose. Several FatFighterTV members have asked me which is better. To get some expert answers, I went to Tara Gidus, RD, Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

FatFighterTV: Okay, whole wheat vs. whole grain – what is the difference?

Tara Gidus, RD: Wheat is a type of grain. Other grains that can be considered to be whole grain are brown rice, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, oats, rye, teff, triticale, millet, amaranth, sorghum, and wild rice. Wheat can come in the form of spelt, bulgur, wheatberries, and faro.

FFTV: Is one better for you than the other?

TG: Many products that say whole grain may have a mix of any of the above whole grains or they may just have one, like whole grain oats. Different grains have different nutritional profiles, but all whole grains are nutrient dense with plenty of complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Multigrain just means there are a few different grains in the product, but that does not necessarily mean any of the them are whole grain.

FFTV: What should consumers look for to help them make the best choice?

TG: Consumers should choose anything that says whole grain. Read labels carefully. Something that says “made with whole grain” usually means made with very little. I look for 100% whole grain or if the first ingredient is whole wheat flour. If it says wheat flour that means it is refined flour, not whole wheat. Consumers need to be familiar with which grains are whole grain and look for those as ingredients. The Whole Grain Council also has a stamp that they put on whole grain products, so people can look for that whole grain stamp on the packages of whole grain products.

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So there you have it – that should make us all better-informed whole wheat/whole grain shoppers. Thanks, Tara!

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