Whole Grain Guide

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Fiber from fruits and vegetables appeared to offer more protection than fiber from grains, but that may be because the study counted the small amounts of fiber in white bread, pasta, white rice, and other refined grains, which may not be beneficial, says Aldoori. "We did see that bran was associated with a reduced risk of diverticular disease."

And that makes sense, he adds. "Bran has the fiber that increases bulking, reduces transit time, and reduces pressure in the colon." Refined grains don't.


Researchers may still be gathering evidence that whole grains protect against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. But they aren't waiting to urge people to eat more.

"Whole grains are more wholesome," says the University of Toronto's Meera Jain. "You have a better chance of getting the vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytoestrogens, lignans, antioxidants, and other unknown factors that you lose when grains are refined."

And there's another reason to eat whole grains. "They add more texture and flavor to the diet," says Harvard's Walter Willett. But, he adds, "most Americans haven't experienced good whole grain products.

"In Germany, a whole grain pumpernickel bread is moist, not dry, and it has good flavor. We have a lot of work to do in exposing people to good whole grain products."


People may be confused about whether their breads and cereals are whole grain, but when it comes to pasta, they know. It's usually not.

You can't even find whole grain pasta in most supermarkets. But specialty and health food stores have a burgeoning supply.

Try DeCecco, DeBoles, or Eden whole wheat spaghetti or linguine. They were much less chewy and gritty than we expected. DeBoles adds some Jerusalem artichoke to lighten its texture.

If they're still too chewy for your taste, try Eden's 50/50 line of pastas. It's half whole wheat and half white flour. You (and your kids) won't know the difference.

You can also try pasta made of spelt or kamut, two ancient whole grains that are making a comeback. They're relatives of wheat, but are well-tolerated by wheat-sensitive people.

Some people find that whole grain pastas taste better with sauces that go beyond the usual tomato. See page 14 for a white-bean-based recipe that we liked.

Finding whole grain cereals is tough enough. Fiber numbers make it even more confusing.

Take Honey Nut Cheerios and Puffed Kashi. Both are whole grain, but each has only a gram or two of fiber per serving. Why? It depends on:

So what's a shopper to do?

1. Look for cereals that are whole grain and high in fiber. Fiber clearly helps prevent constipation, and it may cut the risk of heart disease, diverticulosis, and cancer. So it's worth looking for higher-fiber whole grain cereals (five grams or more per serving).

2. Think of bran cereals as whole grain. Technically, they're not (since the germ and endosperm are missing). But they are a concentrated source of the bran that's missing from the refined grains that most of us eat. Think of wheat germ as whole grain, too. It may be only part of the whole grain ... but it's a good part that we seldom eat.

3. Make your granola low-fat. Most cereals are low in fat. Now you can get lowfat versions of granola and muesli, its untasted European counterpart.

4. Minimize sugar. Sugar doesn't just threaten your teeth. It also replaces some of the whole grain you could be eating.

Which cereals are whole and which are refined? Here's a list of some popular brands.

Cold Cereals Hot Cereals

Whole grain

Mostly refined grain Whole grain Mostly refined grain


Basic 4 Oat bran Cream of rice

Granola or muesli

Corn flakes Oatmeal Cream of wheat


Frosted Flakes Quaker Multigrain Grits


Just Right Ralston High Fiber

Raisin bran

Kix, Corn Pops Roman Meal

Shredded wheat

Product 19 Wheatena


Puffed wheat

Wheat germ

Rice Krispies


Special K

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