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Can you explain the terms 'whole grain' and 'stone ground'?

In whole grains, the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients work together to protect our health. Use this guide to the terms seen on grain foods.

Whole grains include all three parts of the grain kernel.
1.The bran -or outer shell,
2. the endosperm - the inner and biggest part, and
3.the germ-the innermost part.

Grain definitions: 100% wheat means that wheat is the only grain used in the product. It does not tell if the wheat is whole wheat or not.

Stone ground is a technique for grinding grains. It usually means that the grain is coarser and that the germ is intact. The bran portion may, or may not, be included.

Color: The color of a food does not necessarily mean it is a whole grain. Some breads have caramel coloring added to make them look darker, like whole grains.

Ingredient list: Look for foods with the word whole or whole grain before the grain's name in the ingredient list, such as "whole wheat" or "whole grain oats".

Multi-grain refers only to the fact that more than one grain is used in the product recipe. The grains used may, or may not, be whole grains.

These sites can help you clear up confusion and "Go with the Grain!" Wheat Foods Council: or

Reference; Eat Right Montana, May 2001.


Brenda Bell, Human Environmental Sciences Specialist, South Central Region, University Outreach & Extension

University of Missouri Extension Site Administrator: 

Last updated:06/17/2015
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