I want to start off with the simple way to make sure that you ARE getting a good product – and then I’ll touch on the tricky ways companies market around it.
First, and easiest – with rice, you want brown rice (or Black Rice.) Simple! It’s brown (or black) because of that outer bran layer. The white rice has had that removed, and so reveals its naked white self. Scandalous! Put your bran on, little rice! You’re better that way!
Oats I will get in to next time.
For other items like pasta, tortillas, breads, and buns, the simple way to make sure your product is a whole grain is to check the ingredient list. The first product listed should include the word “whole.” “Whole grain flour,” “whole wheat flour,” “whole oat,” etc. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You want Whole Grains, make sure it says is HAS Whole Grains! If the first ingredient is “wheat flour,” do you notice what’s missing? The word “Whole.” Even if it’s “enriched wheat flour,” you’re missing that wholeness.
The second thing to check is the fiber content. Look at the little nutrition label and make sure you’re getting at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Getting enough fiber is very important. Studies see a connection between high fiber diets and decreases in colon cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Fiber is also critical for your natural cleansing process! It’ll push the junk on out of ya! And on the way out, it is helping prevent constipation, hemorrhoids (don’t strain!), diverticulosis, and it can even sweep out some cholesterol, helping to keep those numbers in check.
That’s pretty simple! Just look for “whole” ingredients, and 3g fiber.
I could stop there, but I want to point out a few marketing trickeries, so you are aware.
A wheat product isn’t the same as Whole Wheat or Whole Grain. As shown in the 101 posting, that entire kernel was a WHEAT kernel! So, even when that kernel is processed down and the good parts are removed, they can still call it Wheat Bread. But you’re smart enough to not be fooled by that now, aren’t you! You want the WHOLE grain – bran, germ, and all.
For those types of products, the ingredient list will often show “enriched” in the first ingredient. Enriched white flour, enriched wheat flour, etc. And again, that enriching processes means that after refining the grain and stripping it of its natural health, they added back synthetic nutrients to replace the goodness that was lost, and usually in smaller amounts than originally present. Avoid these items.
Those products usually contain little in the way of fiber – maybe having none at all. Usually I see a whopping 1 gram listed on those.
For you over-achievers out there, here’s a little side topic about a newer wheat product: What about those “white wheat” breads?
The Mayo Clinic says these are actually made with a different type of wheat. Traditional wheat products are made from Red wheat. But there is a strain of Albino wheat, and “white whole-wheat bread – like regular whole-wheat bread – is made with the whole grain” and retains the fiber and nutrients. It is a softer version, more like white bread, marketing to those who are not ready to adjust to the heartier, nuttier flavors and textures of traditional whole wheat breads
Sound too good to be true, oh White-bread lovers out there? It just may be.
In a USA Today article about this new type of bread, Marion Nestle (a favorite author of mine) is quoted as saying:
“Bread is flour, water, yeast, salt. Period. This [white wheat bread] has something like 20 other ingredients…. Why not buy your kids real bread?”
Evidentially, albino wheat is still treated with a long list of conditioners and chemicals to make sure it replicates that doughy, soft texture of white bread. If so, that would be a far step from natural.
I’ll have to check out albino wheat bread at the store sometime to see the ingredient list for sure, but for now, since it doesn’t seem to be available in Saipan anyway, I’ll pass on the “white wheat.” Personally, I like sprouted bread, but that’s for the advanced Whole Grains 201 class in the future.
Your homework: check the ingredients and fiber on your breads, pastas, wraps, buns, and cereals. See what you’re getting!
That’s all for today!