anatomy of a whole grain kernal showing the bran, endosperm and germ

What are whole grains?

In nature, grains grow as whole grains.  Whole grains are the entire seed of the plant, which includes the bran, endosperm and germ.

The bran is the outer protective layer of the grain.  It contains fibre, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The endosperm is the seed found under the bran layer.  It contains carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The germ is found within the seed.  It contains vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Research has shown that eating whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

There are many different types of whole grains. Some include:

  • Whole grain wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Hulled or pot barley
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Whole grain rye
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth

When whole grain wheat is made into refined white flour the bran and germ are removed, which means fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibre are removed.  By law, in Canada, all refined white flour is enriched with Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), Folic Acid and Iron.  Canada has recognized that refined white flour is widely used and regularly consumed by most of the population and so saw an opportunity to prevent deficiencies of these nutrients by adding them to the refined white flour.  Not all nutrients removed during the making of white flour is replaced.  Therefore, whole wheat flour still provides more nutrition and more health benefits than does refined white flour.

Photo sourced from Healthy Grains Institute. For further information visit the Healthy Grains Institute at


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