What is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain?
In our daily strides to gain better health through all of our choices, particularly those choices involving food, decisions about what we eat can get confusing. While many of us have wisely removed white flour from our diets, the terminology around whole wheat vs. whole grain can be puzzling. A recent article presented by fitday.com provides good guidance. Check it out here: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-difference-between-whole-grain-and-whole-wheat.html
While wheat flour is much better for us than white flour, the use of the phrase “whole wheat” is a bit misleading. Yes, the wheat used in “whole wheat” products retains many more nutrients and fiber than does white flour. However, it is not necessarily “whole.”
What are whole wheat products?
Whole wheat products contain only wheat flour, and that grain has undergone some refining. During this refining process, whole wheat flour is partially stripped of its most healthful features, because the bran and germ are removed during the refining process. Only the endosperm remains in the whole wheat kernel before the grain can be used in the making of whole wheat products.
What about whole grain?
In contrast, whole grain products are made from many different grains. These grains may include any or all of the following: Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, tiff, wheat, and wild rice. These multiple grains may or may not be as pleasing to the palate as whole wheat.
Because whole grains are actually whole grains and not altered by refining, whole grain products have a much higher density of nutrients and fiber, and produce less of a sugar spike to the blood stream, reducing the risk of insulin resistance. Whole grains flours are also much lower in fat than whole wheat flours.
Whole grain products and whole wheat products are similar in color but can be very different in texture. Whole grain products tend to be denser, and because whole grain flours undergo less refinement, the bread tends to be more inclined to crumble. Whole wheat flour has more flexibility after baking, so whole wheat products are lighter and chewier on the tongue.
Because it has a much higher fiber content, whole grain flour produces breads and crackers that are much more filling than whole wheat products. Adding whole grains to your diet can lessen your risk of developing insulin resistance and may reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Luckily, the Whole Grain Council has reduced the risk of error in selecting products made of whole grains. If you’re ready to add whole grain products to your diet, look for the Whole Grain stamp on your next grocery shopping trip.
Wellness is a path, not a destination. The best way to build better health is to strive to make consistent and sustainable changes that will enable you to reach for the next healthy goal. For instance, anyone who previously consumed a diet high in white flour probably faced a challenge in developing a taste for whole wheat flour. Once you’ve developed a taste for whole wheat flour, however, the leap to whole grain products is another challenge well worth meeting.