Many grain-based foods now have labels that include terms like "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," "seven-grain," and "multi-bran." Unfortunately, none of these terms ensures that the product is made with whole grain flour. A darker color does not indicate whether bread is made with whole grain flour either.

The term "whole grain" means that the food contains at least some unrefined flour. When whole grain flour is used, the fiber and the naturally-occurring nutrients in the bran and the germ of the grain seed are all contained in the product. The term "100% whole grain" means that the product contains only whole-grain flour. Generally, foods made with whole grains are healthier than those made with refined flour.

The only way to ensure that a food is made from whole grain is to read the ingredients list and look for the term "whole grain," which should be the first or second ingredient. Also, check the Nutrition Facts label for the amount (in grams) and percent daily value (%DV) of dietary fiber. Products made with whole grains have 2.5 grams or more of fiber per serving and 10% or more of the daily value for fiber.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Feb 2007

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015