What are Whole Grains and How to Find Them

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN

Have you had your 3 Servings of Whole Grains today?

Did you know that all grains start out as whole grains, but some are refined during a process that removes parts of their kernel. This strips away much of the grain’s nutrients and flavor. A whole grain contains all three parts of the original kernel, the starchy endosperm, the fiber-rich bran and the germ.


Where can we find whole grains? Oats, Quinoa, brown rice, corn, whole grain cereals and breads just to name a few.


How do we find them?

First, look for the words “whole grain” or look for the whole grain stamp. Other whole grains include: wheat berries, oats, oatmeal, brown or wild rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth and barley. You’ll know it’s not a whole gain when you see the words “enriched flour, wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, semolina, multigrain may describe several whole grains or several refined grains or a mix of both; you must read the label to find out.


Why are they important to our health?

Whole grains are healthier, with more fiber, protein and higher levels of essential nutrients. Eating whole grains is linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, improved metabolism, lower Body mass index, lower LDL /Bad cholesterol and healthier digestion. Remember to make half your gain selection whole grains with at least 3 servings per day.


3 Sisters “Wild Rice Salad”

wild rice salad on a plate

Active prep: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Makes: 4 (1/4 cup) Servings



  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed from cob
  • 2 ½ cups diced butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 ounces queso fresco (can substitute feta), crumbled or diced
  • Pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss the corn kernels and butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, along with the salt and chili powder. Spread the seasoned veggies in a thin layer over a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden, tossing halfway through.
  2. While the veggies are baking, cook wild rice according to package instructions, then drain off any excess water.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice with the roasted corn and squash. Add the black beans, pepper, lime juice, and queso fresco, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) if necessary.
  4. Divide into 4 portions, and serve warm or chilled.


Nutrition information: 470 Calories, 69g carbohydrate, 20g protein, 15g fat, 13g fiber, 530mg sodium

Recipe: An Oldways recipe, courtesy of Kelly Toups wholegrainscouncil.org