Grains of truth
May/June 2015 California Bountiful magazine
Story by Ching Lee
Photos by Matt Salvo
Like barley, corn, oats and brown rice, whole wheat is a kind of whole grain. Learn more!
For health-conscious consumers, there's growing interest in eating more whole foods and whole grains. But what's the difference between whole grain and whole wheat?
According to the Whole Grains Council, whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, just like a carrot is a kind of vegetable. Other examples of whole grains include barley, corn, oats and brown rice.
The term "whole grain" means that the entire grain seed is included in its original proportions. By that same token, "whole wheat" means 100 percent of the original kernel—all of the bran, endosperm and germ—is present.
The bran is the outer layer of the wheat berry and has the most fiber. In the middle is the endosperm, which makes up 83 percent of the kernel weight and contains the most carbohydrates and protein; it is the only part used in making white flour. The germ is the very inside of the seed, or the sprouting part, which contains fat; it is often separated from flour in milling because fat limits flour's shelf life. For this reason, whole wheat flour can go rancid.
Most flour is milled on roller mills, during which the grain components are separated and then recombined, said Janice Cooper of the California Wheat Commission. In order for flour to be marketed as whole wheat or whole grain, all those components must be put back. A small percentage of flour is milled whole, or stone milled, in which the component parts are never separated during the milling process.