What foods are in the grain group?
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
Grains are divided into 2 subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel — the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include:
- whole-wheat flour
- bulgur (cracked wheat)
- whole cornmeal
- brown rice
Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are:
- white flour
- degermed cornmeal
- white bread
- white rice
Most refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains. Check the ingredient list on refined grain products to make sure that the word “enriched” is included in the grain name. Some food products are made from mixtures of whole grains and refined grains.
Some commonly eaten grain products are:
bulgur (cracked wheat)
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals:
whole wheat cereal flakes
whole grain barley
Less common whole grains:
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals
*Most of these products are made from refined grains. Some are made from whole grains. Check the ingredient list for the words “whole grain” or “whole wheat” to decide if they are made from a whole grain. Some foods are made from a mixture of whole and refined grains.
Some grain products contain significant amounts of bran. Bran provides fiber, which is important for health. However, products with added bran or bran alone (e.g., oat bran) are not necessarily whole grain products.