Making your way through the grocery store can be like heading out on a scavenger hunt. You head in for your typical pantry staples like bread and butter, but even these simple items can leave you with questions. Which prompts us to ask, Do you know the difference between whole, multi, and refined grains?

Making your way through the grocery store can be like heading out on a scavenger hunt. You head in for your typical pantry staples like bread and butter, but even these simple items can leave you with questions. Which prompts us to ask, Do you know the difference between whole, multi, and refined grains?

Whole Grain: Contains the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.

Bran: fiber rich outer layer containing B vitamins and trace minerals

Endosperm: middle layer containing the carbohydrates and proteins

Germ:  core containing antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins and healthy fats

Whole grain food examples: Whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, popcorn, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, and brown rice.

BEWARE, foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products.

Refined Grains: Means that the grain has been milled until the bran and germ are removed. Upon removal the B vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants, vitamin E, and healthy fats are lost as well. In order to get some of the health benefits back, manufacturers fortify the product to add back  these missing elements. Even after fortification, whole grains still contain higher levels of heart healthy ingredients than their refined counterparts.

Multi-Grain: Means that more than one type of grain is used in the product. This does not ensure 100% whole grain. The product may just contain multiple refined grain products.

Bottom line: Always look for “100% whole grain” as the first ingredient on the label!