Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Great grains

Grains – such as wheat, barley, bulgar, oats and quinoa – are important sources of carbohydrates, and are part of a healthy diet.  But not all grains are created equal – and it can be difficult to sort out the terminology:  Whole grain, whole wheat, multi-grain, enriched  grain, and more!

Let’s start at the beginning.  A grain kernel consists of three parts:  the bran, the germ and the endosperm.  A ‘whole grain” has all 3 parts and is the healthiest choice.  Many grains are processed which removes the bran and the germ.  Although processing makes the grain easier to chew and digest, it also removes most of the Vitamin B, Vitamin E, fiber and healthy oils found in the bran and germ.  Whenever possible, choose whole grains.

“Multi-grain” and “whole-grain” are not the same thing. The term “multi-grain” means that more than one type of grain has been used.  Multi-grain breads or cereals may, or may not, include whole grains.  To make sure whole grains are the main ingredient, they should appear first on the ingredients list.  Look for words such as:

  • Whole grain whole wheat flour
  • Whole rye
  • Whole oat or oatmeal
  • Whole corn
  • Whole barley

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating grain products every day – make half of these servings whole grains.  The recommended number of servings depends on your age and sex:

 

 

Children

Teens

Adults

Age in years

2-3

4-8

9-13

14-18

19-50

51+

Sex

Girls and boys

F

M

F

M

F

M

Servings

3

4

6

6

7

6-7

8

6

7

So what’s a Food Guide serving?  Examples include:

  • 1 slice of bread,
  • 1/2 a bagel, pita, or wrap or
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, barley, bulgar
  • ½ cup cooked pasta

Learn more...