What Are Whole Grain Foods?

Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2021
what are whole grain foods
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel including the bran. Examples of whole grain foods include oats, quinoa, brown rice, and rye

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel including the bran, which is the fibrous outer covering. Because these grains are not milled, they are healthier than refined grains and contain more nutrients, including fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Examples of whole grains include:

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice and wild rice
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Corn
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Rye
  • Bulgur

What nutrients are in whole grain foods?

Whole grains contain three edible parts: the outermost part (bran), the middle part (germ) and the innermost part (endosperm).

  • Bran: Bran is rich in fiber, vitamin B, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
  • Germ: Germ contains healthy fats, protein, vitamin B, vitamin E, antioxidants, and minerals.
  • Endosperm: Endosperm is a source of carbohydrates and proteins as well as small amounts of minerals and B vitamins.

What are the benefits of eating whole grain foods?

Whole grain foods have a ton of health benefits:

  • Promote digestive health
  • Maintain heart health
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Boost immunity
  • Promote skin health
  • Lower the risk of stroke
  • Lower the risk of type II diabetes
  • Reduce chronic inflammation
  • May lower the risk of cancer

Although whole grains are great for your health, you may have to avoid them if you have underlying health conditions such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that can cause sensitivity to gluten, which leads to damage in the small intestine. 

If eating certain grains makes you uncomfortable or have symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or bloating, talk to your doctor about suitable dietary modifications that are right for you.

How much should you eat?

According to the latest dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults should consume at least 3-5 servings of whole grains each day. A single serving of whole grain is equivalent to any of the following:

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1 ounce of whole grain crackers
  • 1 cup of dry whole grain cereal
  • 1/2 round of whole wheat pita
  • 1/2 cup of whole grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 3 cups of popcorn


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 9/14/2021