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Whole grain foods and health

Published: July 20, 2018

Barley, corn, rye and buckwheat
Barley, corn, rye and buckwheat

Whole grains have been a traditional dietary staple worldwide for hundreds of years.

However, the introduction of refining processes has resulted in the production of hundreds of refined grain products available for consumption to the extent that “white” grain products are often preferred over whole grains and whole grain products. 
Consumption of whole grain foods can benefit health in various ways, but may people do not consume sufficient whole grain foods to reap these benefits. 
Whole grain foods contain many essential nutrients such as carbohydrate, essential amino acids, the vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin and folate, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
In addition, whole grain foods are a good source of fibre.
In general, grains are the small, hard, dry seeds which are harvested from a variety of grasses such as corn (maize), millet, wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, wild rice, kamut and triticale.
These grasses are known collectively as cereal crops and once harvested are easily stored and transported.
Cereals crops are a good source of starch or dietary carbohydrate which is an important source of energy.
Broadleaf, dicot, plant families also produce starchy grains which are referred to as pseudocereal grains and include amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.
Wheat, bulgur, basmati rice and millet
Wheat, bulgur, basmati rice and millet
It can be a confusing experience for the health conscious consumer when it comes to selecting whole grain food products from the array of grain products available in the grocery store.
Understanding the terminology used by the food industry and food regulating bodies can help you to select whole grain products which are most likely to provide you with health benefits.
Follow the link to the full article to learn more about whole grains and health.


Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Health Canada (2014) Whole grains: get the facts
Wikipedia: Whole grains
The American Association of Cereal Chemists