Skip to content

Living Well in Yalobusha County

Pamela Redwine

Whole Grain: Which Do You Choose?

By: Pamela Redwine
MSU Extension Service

Many food manufacturers are making products with whole grains.  How do you choose?  Could eating a whole-wheat glazed donut be the same as eating brown rice?  Is a sugary cereal such as Chocolate Lucky Charms okay if it is made with whole grains?  Would eating a cookie really count as a whole grain serving?  And what about crackers that have a lot of fat or sodium?
Should you buy? 

3 steps to help you decide:
Is it a whole grain?
Is it heart healthy?
Is it low in calorie density?
1. Is it a whole grain? 
Consumers have to do a little detective work to determine if a product is a whole grain.
Look for an ingredient list where a whole grain ingredient is listed first.
Excellent source of whole grain
• 100% whole grain
• “Made with whole grain” means at least half the grains used are whole grains.
• The notification defines “whole grain foods” as foods that contain 51 percent of more whole grain ingredient(s) by weight.
Most people need to eat 3 servings (16g) of whole grains or about 48g per day – that is minimum – you can eat all of your grain servings as whole grains, too!

2. Is it heart health?
• Is it low in sodium?
• Is it low in saturated fat?
• Is it trans fat free?
Many whole grain foods claim “trans-fat free” or “cholesterol-free.”  But unfortunately they don’t always tell the whole story.  To be heart healthy, a food needs to be low in sodium, saturated fat and have zero trans fat.
Many processed grains are a significant source of sodium.  Look for items that have five percent or less of the daily value for saturated fat and sodium and zero trans fat.

3. Is it low in calorie density?
Fat and sugar increase calorie density. This is a big deal in today’s world where most consumers are trying to be conscious of their weight because of a sedentary lifestyle and the abundance of rich food.
Crackers with added fat, cereal with added sugar, sweets like donuts and cookies – they all have added fat and sugar that add a lot more calories than traditional cooked whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

Compare calories per ounce:
Oatmeal 19
Whole wheat pasta 35
Brown Rice 31
Donut, whole wheat 105
Cereal, whole grain 110
Crackers, whole grain 140
Comparing by the ounce or any other unit of weight allows you to compare calorie density of foods.  The top three, that are low in calorie density, are the best choices for controlling your weight over the long term.

Recipe of the Week
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Bread
(1-1/2 Pound Loaf)
1 cup water
4-1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2-3/4  cups bread flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoon rapid-rise active dry yeast
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
Bread Machine Directions
Measuring carefully, place all ingredients except tomatoes in bread machine pan in order specified by owner’s manual.  Spoon tomatoes into 4 corners of pan; do not cover yeast.  Program basic cycle and desired crust setting; press start.
Remove baked bread from pan; cool on wire rack.
Makes 12 or 16 servings (1 loaf)

Leave a Comment