How to Identify Whole Grains
By Sara Butler
Whole grains are an important part of your diet. They provide you with important nutrients your body needs to be healthy such as zinc, fiber, and magnesium. You probably see products labeled as whole grains everywhere, but how can you be sure that what you’re buying is really what you need? Here’s what you need to know about choosing whole grain products at the store and how to store them to keep them fresh and safe.
Look at the Label
Choosing whole grain products doesn’t have to be complicated. Just take a look at the nutrition facts label when deciding which product is best. Look for ingredients such as:
- Whole grain corn
- Whole grain flour
- Whole grain brown rice
- Whole rye
Foods labeled as 100 percent whole wheat, high fiber, and multi-grain may not necessarily contain whole grains -- you must look at the label to make sure.
Think of Fiber
You want to choose a whole grain fiber that has more than 3 grams per serving. If it does, then it’s a great source of fiber. If it goes up to 5 or more grams, then that’s even better. Anything below 3 grams probably isn’t the whole grain you are looking for. Don’t let it pull its non-whole grain Jedi mind tricks on you.
You should also look for choices that are lower in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium.
What About Gluten?
If you can’t eat gluten, then there’s still hope that some whole grains are for you -- you simply have to choose wisely. Check out products made with buckwheat, popcorn, wild rice, quinoa, brown rice, and gluten-free oats to fill the whole grain void in your life.
Is it Fresh?
You should purchase whole grain products that are well sealed and tightly packed. They should smell and look fresh, too.
If you buy whole grains from a bulk bin, then you should use containers with tight-fitting lids and store them in a dry, cool location. Sealed containers will help to keep the product from being infested with bugs and will help maintain its freshness.
It’s a good idea to buy only what you need and will use quickly because the shelf life can vary wildly between different whole grain products. Some can be kept refrigerated for a couple of months, while others only last a week or less.
Whole grains are important, so don't forget to add them to your shopping list!
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