Alexandria Hast, Ph.D., R.D.
Rao Vadlamani, Ph.D.
September is Whole Grains Month and it's the perfect time for you to try a new grain or to meet your goal to eat more whole grains. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet and are packed with valuable vitamins and minerals. In fact, consuming whole grains may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and is associated with a lower body weight. Even with all these health benefits, according to the Dietary Guidelines, 95% of Americans are still not consuming enough whole grains.
This month, we sat down with two of Campbell's grain scientists, Rao Vadlamani and Kouassi Kouakou, to learn more about whole grains and here's what they had to say:
What are Whole Grains?
Before you start making any dietary changes, it is important to understand what whole grains are. Many people think that the terms "whole grain" and "fiber" are interchangeable, but in fact, they are two very different things. Whole grains are an ingredient and fiber is a component found in whole grains.
A whole grain (or kernel) is made up of the germ, the endosperm and the bran. The germ is the small core of the kernel and contains B-vitamins, Vitamin E, and the healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids; the endosperm (the middle portion) is starchy and a source of proteins, B-vitamins and minerals; and finally, the bran (the outer-layer) is made up of fiber, B-vitamins and minerals and protects the kernel. Often, the bran and germ are removed through a milling process to provide a finer texture to the final product and to improve shelf life. The result is a refined grain that, consequently, has most of the fiber and many of the vitamins and minerals removed. Generally, iron and certain B-vitamins are added back to the grain after processing. This final product is an enriched grain, which is the most common form of grain consumed in the United States.. Wheat flour and white rice are common examples of enriched grains.
Interesting Whole Grain Facts
Did you know there are well over 15 varieties of whole grains? Some whole grains are even gluten free! Some of the more common gluten-containing whole grains include wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten free grains include many of the ancient grains like sorghum, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, teff, amaranth and chia. Although there is no official definition of ancient grains, they are most commonly regarded as grains or seeds that remain true to their original genetic form, untouched by plant science. They are higher in nutrients than other grains (wheat, corn and rice), have more unique flavors and textures and are gluten free.
Part of what is so interesting about whole grains is that they are all unique with varying proportions of fiber and nutrients, and different flavors and textures. Let's look at a few examples:
Amaranth – is one of the few grains that is a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, the amino acid missing in most other grains. One-half cup of cooked amaranth, provides 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 14% the daily value for iron.
Quinoa – is also a complete protein, but only has 60% of the iron that is found in amaranth. One-half cup of cooked quinoa provides 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 8% the daily value for iron.
Buckwheat – is actually a botanical cousin of rhubarb but is included in the family of grains for its nutrient content, nutty flavor and appearance. It's also the only grain with high levels of the antioxidant rutin. One-half cup of cooked buckwheat contains 11% of the daily value for magnesium and 80 calories, which is less than the 110 calories typically found in a ½ cup serving of other cooked grains.
Millet – is largely produced in India where it is used as the staple grain in their flat bread called roti. China and Africa follow India as top producers of the grain. In Africa, millet is consumed as porridge as well as for brewing millet beer. In the United States, millet is most often imported for use in birdseed and animal feed but is gaining recognition for use as a nutritious grain ingredient.
Are You Getting Enough?
Most Americans should be consuming about 3 ounce-equivalents of whole grains per day, or 48 grams of whole grain. The easiest way to meet the whole grain recommendation is to eat foods that are 100% whole grain. You can also meet the recommendation by consuming foods that contain at least 51% whole-grain ingredients or are labeled Whole Grain Rich. The front of food packages will often tell you how much whole grain is in the product. Whole grain products are also identified by the whole grain stamp. To help keep track of your whole grain intake, remember that a one- ounce equivalent of whole grain equals 16 grams. Read more about whole grains in the Dietary Guidelines by clicking here.
How Campbell Can Help
Start your whole grain journey today! Whether it's trying a new whole grain or eating more of the grains you enjoy, Campbell has a variety of whole grain options to help you meet your goals.
Find a new favorite sandwich bread by trying one of our Pepperidge Farm® 100% Whole Wheat or Whole Grain breads – many of which provide a 1-oz equivalent or 16 grams of whole grain per slice. You can also trade in your usual sandwich and try one of these whole grain inspired recipes!
Have a Happy Whole Grains Month!
Alexandria, Rao, and Kouassi
Alexandria Hast, Ph.D., RD
Alexandria received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research investigated the effects of protein, energy density, and portion size on satiety and energy intake, and her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals. She also obtained her Bachelor's degree from Penn State and completed a combined internship and Master's degree program at University Hospitals and Case University in Cleveland, Ohio. Alex has several years of experience as a clinical dietitian and is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association.
Rao Vadlamani, Ph.D.
Rao is a Sr. Scientist in Campbell's Ingredient Research and Application (CIRA) and leads the Global Grains Program. He has over 15 years of experience in food product development in the areas of nutritional beverages, baked snacks, and functional foods. Rao earned his B. S degree in Dairy Technology from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University (APAU), M.S. degree in Food Science from Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), and Ph.D. in Grain Science from Kansas State University.
Kouassi L. Kouakou, Ph.D.
Kouassi received his B.Sc. degree in Biochemistry at the University of Abidjan, his M.Sc. in Food Science and Ph.D. in Cereal Chemistry both from Kansas State University. He has been an active member of the American Association of Cereal Chemists since 1989. Prior to Campbell Soup, he had 8 years experience in the flour milling and pasta manufacturing industries. At Campbell Soup, Kouassi is the lead ingredient specialist for pasta and eggs with national and global responsibilities while providing a supporting role in the grain and flour programs. Kouassi is a Sr. Technologist in the Campbell Ingredient Research and Application group.