Whole Grain Health

The Anatomy of a Whole Grain

Watch this video on Winter wheat hybernation.


To understand the term “whole grain,” let’s start with a few basics.

  • A grain is really a seed from any number of cereal plants (such as wheat or barley).
  • A grain kernel has 3 parts—the germ, bran, and endosperm—and each of them contains unique nutrients and vitamins.

To make flour, grain is milled (or ground)

…when the bran and germ are extracted and only the endosperm is milled, that makes white flour.
…when all 3 of parts of the kernel are milled, that makes whole grain flour, also referred to as whole wheat flour

Whole grains not only retain more B vitamins, minerals like iron and zinc, protein and carbohydrates, they also deliver antioxidants, phytonutrients, and beneficial fiber. When it comes to good stuff for you, they can even compete with fruits and vegetables!


Look for Whole GrainThe Whole Grain Council (WGC) has defined whole grain as having “100% of the original kernel, and therefore all the nutrients and vitamins, must be present to qualify as whole grain.” 

To identify products that contain significant sources of whole grains, look for the WGC stamp printed on the bags, boxes, or containers of those food items that qualify.


  • Have 3 servings of whole grains per day, or at least 48 grams per day.
  • 9 out of 10 Americans are not getting the recommended 3 servings per day of whole grain.
  • 7 out of 10 Americans believe they are getting the recommended amount of whole grain.
  • Whole grains are scientifically proven to help enhance your heath, boost your immune system, and (along with high fiber) even reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases.
  • Try to choose whole grain options for some of your favorite foods, like whole wheat bread, whole wheat hot cereals, or brown rice instead of white rice and popcorn instead of pretzels.


The key phrase to look for while shopping is WHOLE Wheat Flour; this indicates that the germ and bran are intact.

Identifying Whole Grain Products

Examples of Industry names for white flour (without the bran and germ)Wheat Flour, Enriched Wheat Flour, Unbleached Wheat Flour Enriched (Thiamine, Niacin, Riboflavin, etc.)

Download our Whole Grain Fact Sheet PDF