Intact Grains vs. Whole Grains

by | Nov 29, 2010
Photo by Venex_jpb

Photo by Venex_jpb

If there is a single subject that befuddles the health-conscious eater, it is undoubtedly carbohydrates.

Most of us have seen the impressive results of at least temporarily restricting carbs, but studies examining the long-term effects of carbohydrate restriction are often ambiguous. Also, while some experts argue fervently for a low-carb lifestyle, some nutritionists still warn about the dangers of eating too much fat or protein.

So how do we know what to believe?

A full examination of the science behind carbohydrate metabolism is beyond the scope of a single blog post, and is in fact not entirely understood by the scientific community (for a thorough review of this topic read Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories, which I have reviewed here).

However, there are a few things we do know about carbohydrates that are worth pointing out.

Lesson 1: Refined grains contribute to nearly every chronic disease in modern civilization.

It is universally agreed in the nutrition community that refined, processed carbohydrates are the worst things to eat on the entire planet.

And it is impossible to overstate how remarkable this is.

The nutrition community is one of the most disagreeable bunches in all of science. But across the board–from vegans like Colin Campbell to carnivores like Robert Atkins–not a single one of them considers processed carbs to be nutritionally neutral. They all consider them dangerous.

Without question, refined carbohydrates contribute to poor health.

Lesson 2: Vegetables protect against nearly every chronic disease in modern civilization.

Where things start to get more complicated is with unrefined carbohydrates, and the various iterations of this definition. There is ample evidence that the carbohydrates contained in vegetables are not harmful, and possibly beneficial.

To call these vegetable carbohydrates “fiber” is to oversimplify the science, but suffice to say that vegetables are good for you and contribute to your good health.

This is also generally agreed upon.

Lesson 3: Whole grains are different from intact grains.

Few people will argue against my first two points. But bring up whole grains and you will unleash a fury of controversy. Some people believe whole grains to be the cornerstone of any healthy diet, while others consider them superfluous and possibly detrimental to good health. You can find dozens of PhDs and MDs to back up your claims no matter what camp you align with.

So why is there so much disagreement? What does the science say?

The problem is that nutrition science conducted in free-living humans is virtually impossible to interpret. This is largely because the studies are so difficult to control and people’s behavior and self-reporting are so unreliable. Another problem is that the definition of “whole grains” has been watered down to a point where it is virtually meaningless.

One reason whole grains are hard to identify is because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created a definition that is friendly to food companies, but not to consumers.

The FDA requirements for a manufacturer to use the term “whole grain” on its label (along with the respective health claims) are as follows:

“Cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis – should be considered a whole grain food.” (emphasis added by me)

Get it? To be considered “whole,” grains do not actually have to be intact.

Thus food manufacturers create products using this loose definition to their advantage, demolishing grains as normal, then adding back the required ratios of grain parts (germ and bran) to meet the standard.

This is how products like Froot Loops get spiffy health labels claiming they lower heart disease when any unbiased nutrition scientist would agree that, with 41% sugar by weight, Froot Loops almost certainly contribute to heart disease.

On the other hand, there is compelling data that intact whole grains contribute to better health.

Lesson 4: Eating grains is a personal choice, not a nutritional imperative.

The good news is that it is really easy to tell the difference between fake “whole” grains and intact whole grains. If a food actually looks like a grain (i.e., it retains its original form and bran covering), then it is an intact grain. If it looks like a Cheerio, chip, loaf of bread or pasta with a “whole grain” label, then it is a fake whole grain.

People following a primal or paleo diet will argue that this difference is irrelevant and that all grains (and legumes?!) are unnecessary for good health. Personally I disagree, but remain fairly neutral on the personal choice of removing grains from the diet entirely.

Grains do not appear to be necessary for survival (Inuit tribes survive without them), but optimal nutrition may require slightly more effort than would be necessary following a traditional balanced diet.

This is generally how I feel about all healthy, restrictive regimens such as vegetarian, vegan and raw diets. You can make it work for yourself if you are willing to make sacrifices and put in the effort.

However you should be aware that for many people, myself included, cutting whole grains out of your diet completely is extremely difficult and, if you ask me, unnecessarily painful.


When making food choices about grains, the critical question is not whether or not a food is “whole” grain but whether the grain is intact. For this reason, it matters very little if you substitute “whole grain” products for regular refined products such as pasta.

Examples of intact grains are oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa (sort of) and faro. White rice is not a whole grain, and is closer to a refined grain than a whole grain.

For optimal health, processed and refined grains should be eaten very sparingly. Small amounts such as those eaten in traditional cultures can be part of any healthstyle, but including them is a personal choice that will depend on your own goals and preferences.

The irony is that if you are able to remove processed foods from your diet, the way you eat could probably be described as low-carb. But this label really undermines a healthstyle based on real food.

Though I eat relatively few grains compared to most Americans, I cringe when I see the shining example of low-carb living, The Atkins Diet website, with images of fake pancakes and pasta plastered all over it. If that is what low-carb is, I want nothing to do with it.

Processed food is still processed food, whether the carbohydrates have been synthetically removed or not. Stick to eating real food and you’ll never have to worry about carbs.

Do you count your carbohydrates?

Originally published November 25, 2009.

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73 Responses to “Intact Grains vs. Whole Grains”

  1. Eleanor says:

    Another reason “whole grain” pasta, crackers, and cereals are nutritionally inferior to true whole grains: a soon as a whole grain is ground up, its nutrients begin to degrade and its volatile oils begin to oxidize. This is why whole wheat kernels, with their bran intact, stay fresh for a long time, while whole wheat flour spoils and gets that nasty smell.

    Thanks for another great post. Have a nice holiday!

  2. I love that you boiled it down to: “When making food choices about grains, the critical question is not whether or not a food is “whole” grain but whether the grain is intact.”

    So here’s my question. My family eats a lot of pasta. I don’t think there is a force in the world strong enough to keep my Italian family away from slurping up their noodles. I always try to convince them to at least eat whole wheat pasta. Should I not be doing this? I figured it must be better than regular pasta. And how do you feel about quinoa pasta?

    Thanks Darya – another stellar post!

    • Darya Pino says:

      Hi Allison,

      Great question that probably warrants a post in its own right, but I’ll give my thoughts on it here.

      My opinion is that whole wheat pasta is great if they like it, but I’ve never read any study that people get a real benefit from switching pastas. Even if you eat pasta every day, I don’t see how this matters much. Also, there are plenty of healthy people who eat pasta every day.


      The real issue is quantity per sitting. Wheat or not, more than 1/2 to 1 c. of pasta is too much and no longer traditional Italian (generally small portions). For people who refuse to give up pasta, a better option is to increase the size of vegetable side dishes and keep the pasta in smaller quantities.

      Another thing to consider is other carb sources in the diet. Does your family eat a lot of bread, rice, cereal, soda, dessert or juice? If they are less dedicated to one of these things, they would benefit just as much from cutting back on these sources and leaving the pasta alone.

      Hope this helps 🙂


      • thomas says:


        1 cup of pasta is 4oz? that’s cooked or raw?


      • Darya Pino says:

        1 cup is 8 oz no matter what you’re measuring. Check the package for recommended serving size.

      • thomas says:

        ok, we don’t have cups as a measurement unit in europe. looked up sites like calorie king which suggest 4 oz 😉

      • Natalie says:

        One Cup = 8 oz by volume, not by weight. Measuring by weight may or may not equal 1 cup.

      • Liz says:

        Ok, I think I missed it in the post, but I read it 2x, so I’m hoping you’re still responding to questions on this old thread! Why is grain that’s taken apart and put back together less healthy than grain that stayed together? The nutrition lable on the box of “whole grain” pasta says it has more fiber than the regular pasta. That’s not an improvement?

      • Darya Rose says:

        Hi Liz,

        Science doesn’t really know yet why processed foods aren’t as good as whole foods. There are plenty of theories: it takes more effort (aka calories) to digest whole food, oxidation and nutrient loss begins after a food is broken apart, chemicals are added to preserve foods that would normally go bad after processing, or something we don’t yet know about.

        Fiber is good as part of whole food, but it isn’t a magical nutrient. At the end of the day, “whole wheat flour” is much, much closer to regular flour than an intact grain of wheat. You would have to be consuming huge amounts of processed grains (already not good) in order for switching to whole grain flour to make a significant impact in your health. When you eat processed grains rarely (recommended), you may as well just eat the kind you like best and enjoy it without pretending it is health food.

      • Michele says:

        This is an old thread, but I’m hoping I can clear up some confusion.

        2oz (56g) of dry pasta = 1 cup cooked(more or less, depending on the shape)

        I’m a bit annoyed because the pasta I prefer (Tinkyada rice pasta) used to list one serving on the nutritional label as 56g but now lists it as 85g! In my books, that’s more than one serving, and so I’ve had to remember to use less than what’s on the package (when I eat pasta, which is pretty rarely).

  3. Shrinath says:

    Lovely and informative post. Thanks. As a cook (hobby) I really appreciate your well thought out information that you provide here. Cheerio.

    p.s.: I am now a reformed vegetarian who eats farm fresh eggs. Is there a word for it?

  4. Travis says:

    Fantastic post, Darya! Very informative.

  5. After you thoroughly chew and swallow a mouthful of “intact” grain, wouldn’t it be equivalent to a “regular” whole grain?

    Only YOU did the processing rather than paying someone else to do it.

    I had a diabetic patient five years ago who bought his own whole grains and processed them with a grinder of some sort. Few people will do that, regardless of how healthy it is.


    • bosie says:

      the ‘processing’ matters though. modern milling ruins most of the grain, removing vitamins, zinc, iron etc. there is a difference between which grinding surface and technique you use as well. if it is as you say, all that wouldn’t matter and the bread nowadays has the same nutritional value it had 300 years ago, which it unfortunately doesn’t have anymore.

  6. Darya, I read your post on whole grain vs regular pasta. It makes sense for people like you who don’t eat much pasta.

    My wife has Italian heritage. We ate lots of pasta before starting our current very low-carb experiment. I could eat 1.5 cups of pasta at a sitting, compared to the usual serving size of 1/2 cup. So for me, the benefits of the bran and germ in whole grain pasta were perhaps significant. If and when we return to pasta, we’ll buy whole grain.

    The kids never did like whole grain pasta. We had to cook regular for them.

    What I resent and find insulting (ok, a bit of hyperbole here) is when I think I’m buying whole grain bread but the first ingredient is “enriched bleached flour.” So it’s highly refined, then they add back some amount of germ and bran so they can claim the “whole grain” label. At that point, they’ve already lost my trust, and the sale.


    • Darya Pino says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Steve. Have you actually seen a study that suggests replacing regular pasta with whole grain is better? I just can’t see that making a difference even in the larger quantities. Wouldn’t you be better off just actively trying to cut back portions?

      Not that the foodie in me could ever eat wheat pasta 😉


  7. Darya, I couldn’t agree with your point on processed foods more. It frustrates me when you see a Dr. Atkins or Dr. Agatston create a successful diet based on solid principles, then they slap their name on processed food in the name of reaching more people and making a buck.

  8. Charles says:

    I think it is mostly about the fiber, insoluble type, which is fragile. I disagree with Steve Parker (I love poking at MDs under the anonymosity of online commenting :)) – chewing isn’t the same as blending, grinding or otherwise processing. And fiber is undigestible, that’s what makes it fiber. But it can be torn to shreds and rendered ineffective.

  9. Jessica says:

    Thank you Darya,
    For pointing out the difference between refined and unrefined whole grains. I simply cannot understand why anyone would exclude grains completely when some of the longest living people in the world (Osaka, Japan) eat a small diet of white rice and fish. I have seen my own health improve incorporating whole grains (mostly oatmeal and brown rice) into my diet. I believe that the secret to health is all in the digestion of whole foods that take 20-30 chews per bite. The less refined a food is, the more satiating it can be. Refined foods and grains can simply dissolve your mouth within 10 seconds without chewing. Everyone should try it with cake, pasta, even frosted flakes. I think that there does need to be a little more push for moderation from neutral people like us against the Paleos and Atkins (who crave oatmeal constantly, I’ve seen their forums!); otherwise how will education about the deliciousness of whole grains reach the public?

    • Darya Pino says:

      “The less refined a food is, the more satiating it can be.” Great point!

      I experienced this at Thanksgiving. I was eating what felt like a lot but had trouble feeling satisfied with the stuffing and mashed potatoes, and I think it was the lack of chewing and quick digestion. Weird experience when you’re used to eating chew-intensive foods 🙂

  10. Matt Shook says:

    Limiting the amount of processed food (whether it is grains, flesh, fruits, vegetables, etc.) in my diet was a major factor in developing my healthstyle. It’s not this simple, but I believe eating large amounts of processed food will result in a lower quality of life…

  11. Daniel Cowan says:

    Hi! I’m reading a book on food storage & preservation, and the author of it recommends storing wheat and rye in their whole grain forms, and then having a home mill to grind your flour for yourself.

    I know that for most flours (white for sure, and I think to some extent whole wheat as well) some parts of the grain need to be removed so that the flour doesn’t go rancid very quickly.

    But if you baked bread from freshly ground flour, would the effects on your body be like eating the whole grain, or would it be more like eating a regular whole wheat loaf that you’d by at the store?

    Thx, very good post again.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Great question, Daniel. I don’t exactly know the answer to your question. But I imagine that if you are going to the trouble of baking your own bread you probably won’t be overeating it. Well done 🙂

  12. Tony K says:

    Hi Darya,

    I jut found your blog. Good stuff. I’m looking forward to your review of Good Calories Bad Calories. Gary changed my life (positively), and it will be good to see a more objective view on the science.


  13. Lori says:

    Excellent information it really breaks it down. I a former pasta and bread addict lets face its hard living in San Francisco and avoiding these things. So I switched to whole wheat pasta and bread only and I still did not loose the weight I needed. I have basically stayed away from the above for a few months and lost 25 pounds, but I still drink wine. For me if I am not not riding 50-100 mile a few times a week or running five miles a day best to stay away from it all together. Even grains are a trigger food for me. I will treat myself to a small plate of house made pasta somewhere really special every four months.

    Thanks for this post, I have forward these onto friends.

  14. baahar says:

    Very informative post and I’m sure that I will find a lot of posts like that here. I’m happy that Kevin mentioned this blog in the last random show.

    “eat real food” is one of the best advices for people living in this time of age.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Thanks for stopping by! If you’re ever in SF definitely drop by the Ferry Building and check it out!

      • baahar says:

        I wish … it is still a long way from Vienna to SF, but who knows, right? 🙂

        I will definitely try to read as much of the posts under the science rubric as possible. Thanks for taking the time to share all this info. And best of luck with your PhD !!

  15. Alex says:

    I plan on eating grain in my diet but also want it to be real “intact” whole grain. Is this possible in bread? Does your statement, “If it looks like a Cheerio, chip, loaf of bread or pasta with a “whole grain” label, then it is a fake whole grain” mean there are no “whole wheat” breads that are actually whole wheat? And in your examples of intact grains you mention whole wheat. So in the case of bread, how can you tell if it’s truley whole wheat?

    Thank you!

    • Darya Pino says:

      I like bread, and sometimes I grind grains myself to make it. But unfortunately you can never call bread an “intact” grain. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat it though. It just means you should watch your portions and be aware that it is a special occasion food. I don’t worry about the kind of bread I’m eating. I’ll eat any kind if I think it tastes good. I just don’t eat it often and eat small amounts when I do.

      I only buy breads from artisanal bakeries, never from grocery stores.

      Hope this helps!

    • Sheri says:

      Ezekiel bread (and tortillas, English muffins, etc.)
      [link removed]

      “We use absolutely no flour. Studies have shown that grinding grains into flour increases the surface area upon which enzymes in the body can work to more quickly convert starch into glucose.”

  16. Lolly says:

    Good post. I am low fat vegan, won’t argue why here, but offer to have you eat potatoes and sweet potatoes in addition to intact whole grains (btw barley is hardly ever available intact, there’ some “pearling”, but its close). The best way to enjoy intact whole grains is to get a Zojirushi rice cooker. You can cook any intact whole grain and some mildly processed grains (like oat flakes, which are basically just sliced oats). They come out beautifully. Add some veggies, mushrooms and maybe a bit of sauce and its a great meal.
    To answer one of the posters, there’s a big difference between chewing and grinding mechanically in terms of the surface area of the food ingested, digestion rate and blood sugar levels. In addition, any time the intactness is broken down, so are the full complement of nutrients. And frankly ground up products go rancid quickly (yes your whole wheat flour goes “bad” – its one of the reason white flour is processed so for shelf life).

  17. Fred says:

    So whole grain rolled oats don’t have intact grains it sounds like. Great read.

    I generally save any type of grain based product for the metabolic window after a workout.

  18. FrancisA says:

    Thank you for the article. I do have a question though. I understand that if you have the choice you should go for the intact grains over whole wheat flour products. It seems to me, however, that you should still choose whole wheat flour products over white flour products given that they have more fiber. When I look at the nutritional information on whole wheat pasta vs. regular pasta, or whole wheat bread vs. regular bread, there is at least double the fiber in the former. That, to me, seems like enough of a difference to continue to encourage people to opt for whole wheat flour over other flour products.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Hi Francis, sorry I’m slow about this.

      My point with this article is that if you’re eating healthy on a regular basis, you’re already getting plenty of fiber and the amount added by half a cup of pasta isn’t going to make any real difference. On the other hand, if you are eating enough pasta that the fiber does make a difference, you have way bigger problems to address. Does this make sense?

  19. YM says:

    Hi Darya,

    Thanks for the informative discussion. Have you done any research into some of claims of “anti-nutrients” present in whole grains that may be harmful to human health? There is some suggestion that grains/seeds/nuts should be soaked (in a slightly acidic solution) sprouted, or fermented prior to human consumption.

    I have started soaking whole grains/seeds/nuts (oats, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, legumes, almonds, pumpkin seeds etc) in water with a couple tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice) for 24 hours prior to using them for cooking or eating them and it *seems* to have made an improvement in my energy levels and digestion.

    I know it’s just anectodal, but just sharing my experience and looking for some additional input. Thanks again.

  20. Ken Leebow says:

    Just curious, what would you say about a cereal like Fiber One … from a health viewpoint?

    Thanks for the good info. and I like the “diet camp” phrase. It does amaze me how the people defend their camps…even though there are many similarities to varied diets.

    • Darya Pino says:

      I’m not crazy about Fiber One, because it is still processed and essentially fake health food. It also has artificial sweeteners in it, which I prefer to avoid.

  21. Stephanie says:

    Hi Darya,
    What is your opinion on popcorn (homemade with just a little sea salt) as a snack…is popcorn considered an intact grain? If the obvious answer is yes, I apologize for the silly question lol I just never see it mentioned and I’m having a hard time separating what I eat into intact vs whole grain catagories. Thanks once again! 🙂

    • Darya Pino says:

      Ha, great question. I definitely think popcorn is a gray area–it isn’t exactly intact after it explodes. I don’t eat it often, but think it’s a good snack alternative to chips, fries, pretzels, etc. I make my own, add (real) butter, salt and whatever spices sound interesting. Truffle salt is awesome 🙂

  22. Fred says:

    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention wheat germ or quinoa in this post. Both seem to be healthy grain based foods that I’m now learning about.

  23. trish heaver says:

    Do you have a specific list of foods that are recommended on the summer tomato lifestyle eating plan? I realize that it involves eating ” from the earth” with foods that don’t have labels…..eating clean. I’m looking for suggestions for grains and other carbs that are acceptable. Thanks and I LOVE your blog!!!!!!

  24. Thomas says:

    I just came across your site and enjoying the written material. As this is not your main area of expertise, though applying your knowledge from another area to nutrition is respected, have you read Dr. Campbell’s or Dr. Fuhrman’s material?

    – I may be missing something however choosing a whole wheat version (bread / pasta / rice) should have a lower glycemic effect which is part of a positive health effect. Pasta has the starches caught within a protein molecule leading to a lower glycemic effect during digestion and whole wheat pasta generally contains a greater amount of protein, fiber along with vitamins and minerals. Regular pasta generally has very little added back into it and as such is heavily processed. In general I believe one can say whole wheat pasta is BETTER than regular pasta though both are not Best choice, we generally live in a world of better choice. Also there does not need to be a study with Whole Wheat pastas to prove a point, though if I took some time on Ovid I should be able to find something, there is a lot of research regarding whole wheat vs white flour’s effects on health. Keeping in mind it is mine field of terms used out there, as you already mentioned in your post.

    There are many angles to the health equation and if we do not consider other aspects we can be lead astray in our choices.

  25. Yol says:

    Hello, thank you so much for posting this. Well, my family is Cambodia and we have white rice everyday. And I told them brown rice is better but it’s hard for them too change. Is white rice bad for health? Thank you!

  26. Liz says:

    One of the very few places that mention “fake” whole grains:

  27. Monica says:

    Hi Darya!

    Question about bread: I agree that processed carbs (e.g. Froot Loops, sponge bread, etc) are a nutritional negative; and I understand how the language of what gets labeled a “whole grain” is deceptive in the packaged food world. I even buy the idea that all bread is processed, even when I am the one doing the processing.

    However, I’m not sure I have my head wrapped around why a whole grain loaf of bread I make myself from freshly ground wheat, yeast, and water would be different than boiling that same wheat and eating it intact. Sure, the grinder physically breaks down the grain first, but as far as my body is concerned, is that processing all that different than my own chewing?


    • Darya Rose says:

      Great question! Smart kids FTW!

      I’ll start with some brutally honest truth: we don’t really know the answer. Regardless of any rationalizations we give each other, this has never been tested.

      That said, I agree that what you’re doing at home is much closer to real food and, therefore, closer to healthy, than a loaf of Wonderbread. There is even an argument to be made that it is healthier</i? than whole wheat kernals, since the fermentation process can make the grains more nutritious and break down some anti-nutrients.

      Dosage is also something to consider, however. Think of orange juice. To make a regular sized glass you'd need to use about 6-7 oranges, compared to eating one regular orange. Bread is similar. Chewing grains takes way longer, uses more energy for chewing and digestion, and you'll eat a lot less of it per serving for these reasons. Blood sugar spikes will therefore be lower and more controlled.

      On the other hand, if someone is making their own bread they are unlikely to be making enough to gorge on, since time is a huge factor in the process. Bread tastes good, and life is too short to be so neurotic.

      Another thing to consider is how much time passes between when the wheat is ground and when it is mixed with yeast (not to mention the quality of the yeast–wild vs commercial). Opening up the wheat chaff exposes the internal molecules to oxidation. So grinding your own grain fresh and using it immediately is different, nutritionally, from buying whole wheat flour at the store.

      It's a complex issue for sure. I hope this helps?

      • Monica says:

        Thanks for the thoughtful (and quick!) reply.

        I wish there were more direct data out there! But in its absence, it helps to have a keen scientific mind available for reasoned speculation. 🙂

        I’m going to keep savoring the wild yeast bread I bake at home. It’s awesome. It also takes 24 hours to make and I have a day job, so as you note, this keeps it a “sometimes food” without requiring any willpower on my part.

        On most days, slow-chewing intact faro (which this site introduced me to) is *also* delicious…and a snap to cook. That’s a perk of starting from whole ingredients: the easiest, fastest option is to eat things in a more intact state (faro vs. bread, fresh fruit vs. smoothie). Laziness works in your favor! 😉

  28. rosa says:

    very good article, after reading this I have come to see my shredded wheat and bran cereal is a no go, thought it was whole grain, not knowing there is a difference between that and intact, can you name me some intact grains I can use (or grain substitues) that are intact since I have metabolic syndrome and have tried every kind of diet in the world including various forms of low carb, slow carb, I have old fashioned oatmeal, oat bran I like to add to buckwheat pancakes that I eat once a week, (been filling up on shredded wheat and bran) so maybe I will be eating a whole lot more oatmeal and pancakes, anyway I suffer some serious hypoglycemia symptoms even tho glucose tests say normal, nervousness, heart races, tension, irritability inability to sleep or sleep soundly, feelings of dread, that sorta thing especially if I have not eaten for 4 or 5 hours and sometimes really bad during the over night hours. are wheat berries intact? I would think milling your own intact grains is okay since commercial milling they add water and create a lot of friction and heat while mine is hand mill. I grind nuts for nut flour tried grinding dried black beans, brown rice to see what kind of flour it would make, my mill doesn’t refine it enough so I get a coarse flour which means I have yet to figure ot what to use it for.

    • Darya Rose says:

      A general rule is if it looks like a grain (think oats, rice, barley, quinoa, etc.) then it’s intact. I’d stay away from pancakes except very rarely.

  29. Sandra says:

    I recently purchased farro pasta (from the Market Wall, College Ave Oakland). Is this pasta now considered a processed or refined grain? Even though is was made from intact farro??

    • Darya Rose says:

      All pasta is refined to some extent. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it, it just means that like most things you should watch your portions. The more fresh, handmade, fewer ingredients, etc. the better, but you’re kind of splitting hairs at this point.

  30. Monica S. says:

    Hi Darya!
    You spoke at my college earlier this year in NY and I bought your book before and read some sections when I needed a break from my coursework in Nutrition (to be fair your book totally related to what I was studying but more on the psychology which I don’t get in my courses)!
    Now that the semester is over I can finally read your book from cover to cover and girl, you nailed it!

    I hope your term “intact grains” catches on because at this point “whole grains” has just been high-jacked by the big food…

    P.S. Chapter 6 has become my birthday-wish list! 🙂 hahaa

  31. Scott Goldsmith says:

    Thank you for the article. Is there one cracker out there that one can purchase that is whole un-refined grain ?

    • Darya Rose says:

      I sometimes find things like that at Whole Foods. Sometimes they taste ok, other times not so much. But don’t feel like you need to eat perfect all the time. I sometimes buy crackers called Raincoast Crisps. They’re tasty, and I enjoy them with my favorite cheeses, and I don’t pretend they’re health foods. But I eat really healthy most of the time, so there’s plenty of room for these in my healthstyle.

  32. Irina says:

    Hi Darya! I’m addicted to your website and YouTube channel. Thank you!

    My question is about polenta, cracked and bulgur wheat. Since, I imagine, you would consider steelcut oats an intact grain (even though they’ve been cut), is it not the same with cracked wheat?

    From Wiki: “Bulgur for human consumption is usually sold parboiled and dried, with only a very small amount of the bran partially removed. Bulgur is sometimes confused with cracked wheat, which is crushed wheat grain that has not been parboiled”

    Would you say bulgur is not a great regular side dish?

    Is coarse polenta very unhealthy? Apparently, it’s very low in GI and much less processed than pasta.

    Thank you so much in advance!

    • Darya Rose says:

      Hi Irina,

      Yes, bulgar and polenta are Real Foods and totally fine.

      Sounds to me like you’re still more concerned with health than pleasure though. Once you’re comfortable with this side dish decision, figure out what needs to happen for you to let go of that mentality 🙂

  33. Irina says:

    That’s fantastic! Thanks for your reply. I really enjoy these foods, so that’s great news!

    You’ve spotted my ability to overthink, haha! But being a mother and wife, it’s sort of my responsibility.

    I enjoy my home made food a bit too much, so there’s no problem here! Lol I usually go to bed with a smile planning what I can have your breakfast! How crazy is that?

  34. نان says:

    that was perfect

  35. Kevin says:

    Information here is incorrect. Look at a package of oatmeal – processed and not intact. Steel cut oats – the least processed form, but not intact. Brown rice has the hull removed. Brown just means the bran layer is left on. White rice isn’t close to a refined grain, it is refined because the bran is removed. Definition of refined grain is that endosperm (starch), germ, and/or bran are removed.
    Whole wheat? Do you know anyone that eats wheat berries whole? Unless you are harvesting wheat from the field, it is unlikely to be “intact”. Wheat is nearly always ground into meal or 100% whole wheat flour (bran + germ present). Read any of the published literature on health benefits – benefits come from keeping bran and germ with the starch. Benefits are not exclusive to eating grains ‘intact’.

    “Examples of intact grains are oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa (sort of) and faro. White rice is not a whole grain, and is closer to a refined grain than a whole grain.”

  36. wolfv says:

    The link to the FDA is broken. The only place I found that quote was in a draft from :

    Not for implementation. Contains non-binding recommendations.

    Cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis, whose principal anatomical components – the starchy endosperm, germ and bran – are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact caryopsis – should be considered a whole grain food.

  37. jack says:

    The title of the article is “Intact Grains vs. Whole Grains”. Yet there is no mention of why one is better than the other except for “there is compelling data that intact whole grains contribute to better health,” with a link. That’s all? No actual mention of why intact grains are better for health than whole grains?

  38. Amelia says:

    Question: We grind our own wheat at home from intact wheat berries. How do you feel about homemade whole wheat bread (our sourdough is literally just homemade starter, flour, and salt)? Okay to enjoy frequently? Thanks.

    • Darya Rose says:

      That’s amazing. Everything should be viewed as an experiment. Seems reasonable to enjoy it when you like, but if you start feeling sluggish, gaining weight or having poor blood glucose control it’s certainly an area to look at to cut back. Nobody can tell you what works for you, you need to figure it out on your own through trial and error.

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