Whole grain vs. Whole wheat: A Review

Written by Erika Martin BSc, Nutrition Candidate

Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD

We would like to welcome one of our new Nutrition undergraduate volunteer students, to our practice. This is Erika’s first blog post, for us.

Canada’s Food Guide states that half of our daily servings of grains should be whole grains. Whole grains provide us with more fiber, vitamins and minerals, than refined grain products. It is important to understand the difference between whole grain and whole wheat.

What is “whole grain”?

Whole grain means that the entire kernel of any type of grain has been used.  The wheat kernel has three parts: the outer bran layer (which provides fibre), the endosperm (which provides minerals and proteins) and the germ (which provides B and E vitamins). Some examples of whole grains include barley, rolled oats, quinoa, spelt, brown rice or corn – in addition to wheat.


What is “whole wheat”?

Whole wheat also describes a fully intact kernel; however, it is specifically referring to wheat, and does not include any other type of grain. When buying whole wheat products, it is important to make sure the ingredients are listen as “whole” – otherwise it could be missing key nutrients from the removal of germ or bran layers.

Which is better for you?

Whole grains have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers as they provide the most vitamins, nutrients and fibre. The best thing to look out for when grocery shopping is the Whole Grain Stamp which indicates that all grains used in the product are whole. In addition, while shopping for both whole grain or whole wheat bread, it is important to check that it is a good source of fiber. Aim for breads that contain at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Finally, as bread is known to be a source of sodium, try to choose breads with no more than 200 mg per serving.

Click here for more information on choosing healthy grains.

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