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Health Canada recommends that all Canadians should aim to get at least half of their grain servings as whole grains. This means 3-4 whole grain servings per day depending on your age and gender. Whole grains are versatile and tasty but it may be challenging to figure out how to get more into your diet. Read on for tips on buying and preparing whole grains.
Whole grains are grains which have undergone the least amount of processing. This means that all three parts of the grain are preserved, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The bran is the protective covering of the grain and provides fibre, B vitamins, and minerals.
The germ nourishes the seed and is the source of new growth in the plant. It provides mostly vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin E, minerals and healthy fats.
The endosperm is the inner seed and provides carbohydrate and protein. It also provides vitamins and minerals.
Surprisingly, in Canada there are no regulations for using the term "whole grain" on product labels. That means the term "whole grain" does not guarantee that the product is a healthy choice. Many products using the claim "whole grain" are in fact very low in whole grains.
Choosing whole grains can be easier than you think if you check the ingredient list on food labels. To make sure whole grains are the main ingredient, they should appear first on the ingredient list. Look for ingredients like "whole grain whole wheat flour", “whole rye”, “whole oat” or “oatmeal”, "whole corn”, “whole barley” and other grains that start with “whole”.
Don't be fooled by multigrain products, which may include a variety of different grains but may not include whole grains.
Whole wheat is usually a refined grain, though there are exceptions. Refined grains are grains that have had some or all of the germ and bran removed from the kernel. Examples of refined grains are white flour, white rice, white pasta, whole wheat flour, and cream of wheat cereal.
Whole wheat flour contains at least 95% of the wheat kernel, but most of the germ and some of the bran is missing. Therefore, products labelled as 100% whole wheat or 60% whole wheat are NOT whole grain products.
Wondering what to choose at the grocery store, or how to use some different grains? Try some of the following whole grains.
Other whole grains include barley, brown rice*, buckwheat*, corn*, kamut, oats, rye, sorghum, and wheat
*gluten free whole grains
Whole grain (1 cup)
Amount of water
Bring to a boil,
then simmer for
3 1/2 cups
2 1/2 cups
soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes
Vegetable and Quinoa Salad
Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf
Chicken Bulgur Salad
Choosing Whole Grains FAQ
Whole Grains 101, Whole Grains Council
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