When the server asks “white or whole wheat?” what do you choose? The question actually applies to nearly every meal: A morning bowl of cereal, the bread that holds a sandwich together, pasta at dinner. When you choose white, or refined grain, a lot is left at the mill. “Refined” may sound good but what does it actually mean for the final product – and your health?


“White” vs “Whole Grain”


The term “whole grain” describes which parts of the grain kernel are used in a product. Grain kernels have 3 parts, each with their own set of nutrients and benefits.

  1. THE BRAN: A multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It holds beneficial B vitamins, antioxidants, and is rich in fiber.
  2. THE GERM: derived from “germination”, it is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant. It contains lots of B vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and some protein.
  3. THE ENDOSPERM: serves as the germ’s food supply, providing energy for growth. It is by far the biggest portion of the grain kernel. It is filled with starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

When grains, such as wheat, are refined, the milling process strips away color and all but the starchy endosperm. Whole grains on the other hand contains all 3 parts of the kernel. That means all the grain’s nutrients remain. Wouldn’t you rather get all the nutritional elements grain has to offer rather than just the starch packed portion?

Whole Grain Nutrient Gain

Whole grains offer vastly higher amounts of nutrients when compared to the refined counterpart. For instance this list compared whole wheat flour to refined wheat flour:

  • Vitamin E – 98% higher
  • Vitamin B6 – 89% higher
  • Vitamin K – 84% higher
  • Magnesium – 84% higher
  • Manganese – 83% higher
  • Fiber – 75% higher
  • Zinc – 73% higher
  • Potassium – 71% higher
  • Phosphorus – 70% higher

  • Copper – 65% higher
  • Calcium – 56% higher
  • Selenium – 45% higher
  • Protein – 22% higher
  • Riboflavin (B2) – 76% higher
  • Niacin (B3) – 75% higher
  • Thiamin (B1) – 76% higher
  • Iron – 67% higher
  • Folate – 41% higher







View the entire comparison chart from the USDA here.


Whole Health Benefits

As if the nutrient values are not convincing enough on their own, the health benefits of whole grains are overwhelming! Regular consumption:

  • Reduces risk of: heart disease 25-28%, stroke risk 30-36%, type 2 diabetes 21-30%, asthma, inflammatory disease and reduces risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal.
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Supports healthier carotid arteries
  • Positively impacts blood pressure levels
  • Lowers risk of obesity
  • Improves weight management
  • Helps you feel full longer due to their high fiber content and slower digestion rate
  • Aids digestion

The List goes on!


The Next Step: Simple Swaps

Clearly, whole grains are an easy choice for your health. The next step is to get them into your diet. It is actually simple to add them in with a swap. Trade foods that contain refined flour or grains for those that boast whole grains. Need some examples? Learn how to Gain From Grains with simple swaps!




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