Shopping for Whole-Grain Foods

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Shopping for Whole-Grain Foods

The whole story.

Look at the Ingredients list. The word “whole” should be at the beginning of the list. Ingredients to look for are:

  • Whole-grain brown rice
  • Whole-grain corn
  • Whole oats
  • Whole rye
  • Whole-wheat flour

Foods that say “multi-grain,” “100% wheat,” or “high fiber” on the packaging may not actually be whole-grain products. Check the Ingredients list to get the whole story.

Just the facts.

Look for the Nutrition Facts label to choose whole-grain foods with lower sodium, low saturated fat, and low added sugars.

Find the fiber.

The Nutrition Facts label will also tell you how much fiber a serving of the food contains. If it contains 3 grams of fiber per serving, it is a good source of fiber. But if it contains 5 grams or more of fiber per serving, it is a superstar!

Go local.

Breads and other whole-grain baked foods from local companies are often less expensive than national brands. Local baked foods may not have the same preservatives as national brands, so be sure to store them properly and use them quickly.

Buy just what you need.

If whole-grain foods are not eaten quickly or if they are stored incorrectly, the oils in the grains can spoil, giving the food a rancid or spoiled taste. Purchase smaller amounts of whole-grain foods to keep from losing them to spoilage.

Handle with care.

Check the label of whole-grain foods for the expiration date and storage guidelines. Check several packages of the same product while you’re at the store. Choose the one that has the longest expiration date.

Make sure that the packaging of the whole-grain food is tight and well-sealed. Don’t buy a package that isn’t sealed.

After you open the package, keep the food in a container with a tight-fitting lid and store it in a cool, dry location. A sealed container will keep the food fresher and keep bugs out.

If you buy actual grains or whole-grain flours, these can be stored in sealed containers in your refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresher longer. In the refrigerator, whole-grain flours will keep for 2 to 3 months. In the freezer, they will keep for 6 to 8 months.

Whole-grain breads keep best at room temperature in the original packaging, tightly closed with a twist-tie. Don’t store breads in the refrigerator because they will quickly become dry and stale. But you can store bread in the freezer, if it is tightly wrapped.

Concerned about gluten?

People who can’t eat wheat gluten can still get the benefits of whole grains, if they choose those grains carefully.

Whole-grain foods that fit in a gluten-free diet include:

  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • certified gluten-free oats and oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”)
  • wild rice

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.