Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

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We've talked a lot about whole grains over the years. Most recently, it was in our Building Blocks of Health series, but we've also covered recent studies about the impact of whole grains on health, how to do a whole grain cooking demonstration, and more practical matters like which whole grains cook quickly, ways to replace refined grains with whole grains, how to shop for whole grains (and not get tricked by sneaky product packaging and misleading claims), and even which whole grains are gluten free.

But we've never published a comprehensive list of whole grain and refined grain foods... until now.

Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommend eating whole grains instead of refined grains when possible. Remember, whole grains contain the entire grain kernel –- the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. These are full of nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber. Refined grains, on the other hand, have been milled. This processing removes one or more of the three key parts (bran, germ, or endosperm) of the grain. It also removes dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins.

So, here's a list of common whole grain foods:

  • Amaranth*
  • Barley
  • Brown rice*
  • Buckwheat*
  • Buckwheat groats (aka kasha)*
  • Bulgur (aka cracked wheat)
  • Farro
  • Millet*
  • Oat groats**
  • Oatmeal**
  • Popcorn*
  • Rye flour
  • Sorghum*
  • Steel cut oats**
  • Wheat berries
  • Whole grain cornmeal*
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole wheat bread products
  • Whole wheat flours
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Wild rice

Here's a list of common refined grain foods:

  • Bagels
  • Corn grits*
  • Cream of wheat
  • Polenta*
  • Pretzels
  • Flour tortillas
  • Refined grain cereals
  • Refined grain crackers
  • Traditional pastas
  • White rice*
  • White bread products
  • White flours

* Gluten-free
** Naturally gluten-free but may be processed with other foods that contain gluten.

And for even more whole grain fun, check out this quick review of whole grains by Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University.

What did we miss? Contact us and let us know!

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