October 26, 2016
Whole Grains A to Z

Supermarket Buying Guide: Whole Grains

Whole Grains A to Z

by Edward R. Blonz, Ph.D.  |  

Whole wheat is just one of many grains. You’d be wise to include a lot of other grains in your diet to get the widest array of nutrients and phytochemicals. You can find the ones below at health-food stores, but mainstream markets carry most of them, too.

Amaranth: Ancient grain of the Incas, notably higher in protein than most grains. Slight peppery taste.

Barley: Particularly rich in the group of soluble fibers called beta-glucans, which help lower cholesterol levels. Nutty flavor.

Buckwheat groats: Technically a seed, not a grain; sold whole and cracked, sometimes labeled “kasha.” Eat as cereal or as a side dish. A source of rutin, an antioxidant that may lower blood pressure and cholesterol by improving the strength and elasticity of blood vessels.

Bulgur: Made from wheat kernels. Sold precooked, it needs only to be soaked in water, not cooked.

Corn: A whole grain, whether as corn on the cob, frozen, canned or popped. Often listed just as “corn” on labels, but some labels may state “whole kernel corn.” It’s all good for you. An especially good source of lutein, a carotenoid important for eye health.

Millet: Tiny grain of various colors. Provides more B vitamins than most grains.

Oats: Sold in various forms, but all are whole grains. Rolled oats are sold whole, chopped (“quick” oats) and precooked (“instant”). Steel-cut oats, which are cut up but not rolled, take longer to cook but have a nuttier flavor. Oats contain beta-glucans, saponins and other beneficial phytochemicals. Intake of oats is associated with a lowering of elevated blood cholesterol levels.

Quinoa: This ancient food of the Incas has small, round “grains” that actually are the seeds of a fruit. Cooks like a grain and is delicate in taste and crunchy. Has the best protein quality of all grains, as it contains high levels of lysine, normally in short supply in grains. Also provides riboflavin, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and potassium

Rice: Brown rice is whole rice before it’s polished. Has a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than white rice. Also provides more fiber, B vitamins, and minerals than white rice.

Teff: These small brown, red or white kernels are an ancient grain that is a staple in Ethiopia. High in protein, double the iron as in most grains and a source of calcium. Sweet nutlike flavor.

Wheat berries: The entire wheat kernel, including the intact outer layer of bran, so it is rich in insoluble fiber. Nutty flavor, chewy texture.

Wheat germ: The most nutritious part of the wheat kernel, especially rich in protein, iron and riboflavin, but also has other B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, potassium, fiber and more.

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