Buyer Beware: Healthy Whole Grains

Healthy Whole Grains. Everyone from your dietician to your grocery clerk tells you to eat them. But what qualifies as a healthy whole grain? Walking down the aisle of your local grocery store provides little clarity to the situation, bombarding you with conflicting messaging on a range of products.

How do you cut through the noise and make the right choices? Become a smart consumer. Even if a loaf of bread is labeled as whole wheat and healthy, read the fine print. If Enriched Flour is the first ingredient, you’re just getting low quality flour ‘enriched’ with a few vitamins and nutrients.

Thankfully, manufacturers have responded to consumer demands with products that pass the sniff test. Look for sprouted grain based breads. Ezekial bread is one popular option, while there’s a Canadian brand called Silver Hills that I recommend.

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects: 1) sprouting activates food enzymes; 2) sprouting increases vitamin content, and 3) sprouting neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them. Source

Check the nutritional facts and ingredient list on everything you buy, whether it claims to be healthy or not. There have been plenty of brands jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon who may not sincerely offer a healthier product.

Footnote: I know bread is a staple of the North American diet, but I’d rather see people opt for carbohydrates that come directly from the ground, i.e. sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, rice, vegetables etc., but I also know bread is tough to avoid entirely. Wheat-based products offer convenience. Pizza, sandwiches and burgers can be eaten on the go, and ultimately your diet needs to fit your lifestyle, not the other way around. I know not everyone is OK lugging around four containers of tupperware with portioned meals everywhere they go! But just try to make the best possible choices of what’s out there. We have the luxury of choice in North America, take advantage of it. Those good decisions will add up in the end.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.