How to choose 100% whole grains

Whole Grain Stamp

Manufacturers use lots of verbal sleight-of-hand to try to get you to think their food is healthier than their competitor’s.  That’s nothing new, and they’re incredibly good at it.  So arm yourself with this information next time you’re reading through the ingredients list at the store:

If it says “100% WHOLE GRAIN” on the front of the package you’re good to go.

If it says any of the following on the front, it’s most likely not 100% whole grain, and you should move on.

  • “Flour”
  • “Wheat Flour”
  • “Enriched Wheat Flour”
  • “Refined Flour”
  • “White Flour”
  • “Made with whole grain(s)”
  • “Multigrain”
  • “Stone-ground”
  • “100% wheat”
  • “Cracked wheat”
  • “Seven-grain”
  • “Bran”

Better yet, skip the marketing stuff on the front of the package, and go right to the ingredients list on the back.  Look for “Whole Wheat” (or other whole grain) at the top the list… The keyword being, of course, “Whole.”

Beware of another common pitfall:  In the ingredients they’ll list “Whole Wheat” first, and right behind it will be “Enriched Wheat Flour.”  That second one is just another name for refined flour.  Again, move on.

Have you seen other label trickery?  Post in the comments!

More resources:

The USDA’s Tips to help you eat more whole grains
(though in my opinion they don’t go far enough).

The Whole Grain Council’s Guide to Identifying Whole Grains.
(it’s their label pictured above… which has several versions, so make sure you find the one that says 100%!)

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