Grains are great and they are nutritious and delicious. Grains are one of USDA’s Myplate food groups. Consuming foods from the grains group, especially whole grains, can be beneficial for overall good health. Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley, and other types of grains are considered grain products. Examples of grain foods are bread, pasta, rice, cereal, grits, and tortillas. According to the American Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should make ½ our grains whole grains.
There are two types of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains consist of all parts of a kernel including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Foods such as Popcorn, oatmeal, brown rice, and 100% whole wheat bread are examples of whole grains. Refined grains have been striped and milled in a process that removes the bran and germ. This process creates a grain product with a smoother texture and the shelf life is improved. Grains that have undergone this process also have removed dietary fiber and other key nutrients including iron and several B vitamins. Examples of refined grain products are white flour, white bread, and white rice.
There is another method called enriched applied to refined grains after processing. This process adds back key nutrients like iron, and certain B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. The one ingredient not added back to enriched grains is fiber.
To ensure the grain products you are eating have been enriched, check out the ingredient list and look for the word “enriched” is a part of the grain name. It is not uncommon for grains products to be made with a combination of whole and refined grains.
Grains are great and are an important part of a healthy meal plan. To learn more about grains go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture