There are many different types of grains that are popular throughout the world. In some nations, grains are the staple of the diet, the staff of life so to speak. Most grains have an outer layer called the bran, which wraps around an inner section that has some type of seed or kernel at the center.
Whole grains are breads, cereals, rice, pasta, etc. that are made from all parts of the grain. This is in contrast to refined grains, which do not include the outer bran or inner seed. Whole grains are high in fiber, while refined grains are low in fiber. Whole grains are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which protects against disease. They are also a good source of B vitamins, which protect against heart disease. Whole grains provide magnesium, which is important for blood pressure regulation.
Grains have gotten a bad rap lately due to the popularity of low carbohydrate diets, but all grains are not created equal, and whole grains are an essential component of a diet to lower heart disease risk as well as cancer risk. Try to consume six to eight grain servings each day. Half should be whole grains.
When you are looking at the Nutrition Facts Panel on a food, look for the word W H O L E as the first ingredient. Look at the fiber content of the food. Whole grains generally include 3 grams of fiber or more per serving.