The differences among grains extend beyond far beyond their colors. Registered Dietician Ali Spencer, from LDS Hospital explains the differences. Whole grain products have more fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts and have been linked to many health benefits. Whether we’re talking noodles, breads, tortillas, or crackers, the difference boils down to what type of wheat is used in the product. The most recent dietary guidelines recommend that Americans get half of their grain servings as whole grains. One serving of whole grains is 16 grams.

Whole grains contain all portions of the grain’s kernel: the germ, bran, and endosperm. Whole grains include whole wheat flour, buckwheat, barley, corn, oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice.

Refined grains have undergone a refining process that removes the germ and bran, giving it a smoother texture. Refined grains include white flour, white rice, degermed flours.

Enriched grains are refined grains that have been fortified with additional nutrients. Although many of the vitamins lost can be added, fiber is not. Most refined grains are also enriched.

How can you tell what types of product you are buying?

  1. The whole-grain stamp. The Whole Grain Council has a stamp that signifies that a product either has 100% whole grain or at least ½ a serving of whole grains.
  2. Look at your labels.
  • Fiber doesn’t tell the whole story, but try to buy a bread with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving.
  • Look at the claims. Words like fiber, stoneground, cracked wheat, multigrain, and whole grain don’t always signify that a product is 100% whole grain. Enriched flour, bran, and wheat germ are never 100% whole grain. Marketers are always going to throw out buzz words to increase sales.
  • Look at the ingredients list. Are the flours included designated as 100% whole grains? What are the first few ingredients? Does sugar follow the whole wheat flour? Choose a product in which all the grains listed are whole grains and that doesn’t include a lot of added sugar. Remember, the ingredient list is done by weight, so those ingredients showing up in the beginning are represented more heavily in the product.

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