Does a Brown Color Mean that the Food is Made from Whole Grain?

Does the color of all of the brown breads and buns at the grocery store mean that they are made from whole grain? Do the cereal boxes showing brown flakes mean that you will get whole grain in every serving? This article will shed a little light on the difference between brown coloring and whole grains.

Whole Grain

Whole grain products have less fat and more nutritious fiber than those that are not whole grain. The refining process strips away the bran and germ which contain all of the nutrients from grains. Consuming whole grains on a regular basis can help lower your bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein or LDL) which form a thick plaque that can clog your arteries and cause heart attacks. Whole grains can also help lower your triglycerides, which are a form of fat that can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Another benefit to consuming whole grains is that they can keep your digestive system regular by adding fiber to your diet. Another benefit is that whole grains slow your digestion of starches. This prevents spiking of your blood sugar which has been linked to a higher chance of developing diabetes.

The Color

Some bread and cereal products have brown dye and/or molasses added to them to make them look like they are whole grain products.  Molasses is added for color but also to improve the texture of products that are not made from whole grain.

The Label

Take the time to read the ingredient label because what you see is not always what you actually get. A few extra minutes in the bread and cereal aisle may save you from gaining weight or developing a disease. A little time goes a long way in this case. Whole wheat should be the first ingredient listed if the product is really made from whole grain. The United States federal government requires that products truly contain whole grain in order to have the following names:

  • “Whole wheat bread”
  • “Whole wheat buns”
  • “Whole wheat macaroni”
  • “Whole wheat spaghetti”
  • “Whole wheat flour”

 Popular Whole Grains 

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Maize
  • Oat
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Popular Whole Grain Foods

  • Rolled oats
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat Pasta

Certified Whole Grains

Looking for the Whole Grain Stamp on the food label is the easiest way to know for sure what you’re getting. The Whole Grains Council puts their stamp of “good source of whole grain” on products that have at least half a serving of whole grains per portion consumed. Their “excellent source of whole grain” stamp goes on products that contain at least one serving of whole grains per serving portion.

Unfortunately, color is not an accurate indicator of whether or not something is whole grain. Good old fashioned reading of labels is the only way to be certain that what you are buying and eating is whole grain. So, happy reading and happy eating.


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