Where can I find intact grain products?

In my last post, I presented the health perks of including intact grains – whole grains which are not processed. But you may be wondering about how to find or identify intact grain products. Here’s how.

But first I want you to keep in mind that while intact grains do provide assorted health benefits, there’s still plenty of room to include other whole grain offerings as well. Not all your whole grain selections need to be of the intact variety.

Any kind of whole grain is wholesome.

So if you’re baking cookies, for example, while you can use intact grains, like steel cut oats, you might also be opting for a whole grain flour.

What intact whole grains to look for

Intact grains include wheat berries, barley, quinoa, buckwheat groats or kasha—basically, any grain where you can see the kernel or seed.

Here are just a few examples of intact grains to select:

– Whole quinoa over quinoa flakes or flour

– Regular brown rice over instant varieties

– Steel cut oats or oat groats over instant or finely milled oat cereals

– Hulled or unhulled barley over barley flour

– Wheat berries over whole wheat flour

– Buckwheat groats or kasha over buckwheat flour

I love bread. How can I find one that contains intact grains?

Thomas Wolever DM, PhD, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, offers some food for thought on this perennial favourite.

“The difference between the stone-ground and finely milled flours is small, but for people who eat a lot of bread, it can have a significant overall effect.” he says.

He suggests looking for stone-ground whole wheat bread, which he notes has a lower GI than standard whole-wheat bread made from finely milled flour. He points out that breads made with intact whole grains, where you can actually see some grains in the bread, have a lower GI, but the difference depends on the amount of intact whole grains.

When choosing whole grain breads, those with a very smooth texture tend to be made from finely milled flours. Those made with intact grains will have a coarser texture, with some of the grains being visible in the bread.

When it comes to preparing intact grains, a common obstacle is the fact that they can take significantly longer to cook than more refined options. Try adding intact grains to soup, or cooking larger batches and freezing them in labelled pre-portioned packets. Then enjoy them all kinds of dishes—combined with pulses, like beans or lentils, for a vegetarian main course, in salads or as side dishes like a pilaf.


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Categories: Tips and Tricks, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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6 Comments on “Where can I find intact grain products?”

  1. Jennifer
    September 24, 2021 at 7:05 am #

    Complete Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson has excellent recipes using whole grains. I have made many of her recipes and enjoyed them all
    Thanks for the advice on what to look for in breads, never knew that and always wondered

  2. September 24, 2021 at 11:14 am #

    Thanks for your comments, Jennifer! I’m glad I was able to offer useful advice about choosing breads. And yes, Judith’s book is great.

  3. Jacqueline Jauregui McFeely
    September 24, 2021 at 1:57 pm #

    One way to up the whole grains in your bread, if baking yourself, is to add a “ soaker” of soaked oats, millet, rye chops, etc. to the dough. It makes for a tender loaf and ups the flavor as well as the nutritional value.

    • September 24, 2021 at 9:08 pm #

      That’s a great idea, Jacqueline! Not being a bread maker myself, I had not thought of this but would definitely recommend this!

  4. cherylstrachan
    September 24, 2021 at 7:32 pm #

    Hi Rosie, where would you say sprouted grains fit in all of this? Not intact, but not finely milled, right? Not sure how they compare to stone ground, as far as GI is concerned.

    • September 24, 2021 at 9:06 pm #

      Great question, Cheryl! I will check into this as I think they’re in their own category. Stand by for some answers.

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