Grains 101: The Scoop on Whole Grains

Grains 101: The Scoop on Whole Grains

What exactly are whole grains? Simply put, they are small, edible seeds that come from grasses such as wheat and barley. They are “whole” when all of the grain components are present, from the outer shell to the "germ" deep inside. Whole grains can be ground, cracked, or flaked, and still retain their benefits.

Grains are made up of three main components: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.

  • Bran, or outer shell, protects the inner seed and provides fiber, B vitamins, and some trace minerals.
  • Endosperm is most of the inner body of the seed. It contains protein and carbohydrates—basically a concentrated energy source.
  • Germ makes up the remaining part of the seed; it contains vitamin E, other antioxidants, and B vitamins.

All of the grain's nutrients, sometimes called phytonutrients (health-supporting components of plant foods), amino acids, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals work together to support good nutrition. Unfortunately, some food manufacturers and restaurants rely mainly on refined grains, where the seed is stripped of its bran and germ (and the bulk of its nutrients), leaving only the carbohydrates and protein in the endosperm. In some instances, food makers will attempt to enrich these refined grains by adding back some vitamins and minerals that were lost during processing.

When we make foods at Kashi, we strive to preserve the nutrients that occur naturally in our ingredients. We use 7 whole grains in our foods, and because they are whole, every part of the grain—along with its nutrients—are included so you get a great nutritional bang in every bite.

Learn more about the natural nutrition of whole grains and then find tasty ways to eat more whole grains.

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