This is another good one and another case where you really have to read your labels. Whole grains are a healthy carbohydrate choice because they are a “complex” or slow releasing carbohydrate. This means that they break down into sugar slower, therefore providing a constant stream of energy to the body. Refined and processed grains are fast releasing carbohydrates. They break down into sugar quickly, providing immediately available energy. However, when that energy is not needed at that moment by the body, the sugar is stored as fat.

The classic marketing hype here is with breads. Most breads are made from refined flour. This is wheat that has had the nutritious germ and bran removed and then processed into flour. Some synthetic B vitamins will be sprayed back in and it will be labeled “enriched” flour. Only “whole wheat” still contains the germ and the bran. When reading the labels look for “whole wheat” or “stone ground wheat”. When it says “wheat flour”, “enriched”, “unbleached”, or “bleached” it is still processed, refined, non-nutritious white flour.

There is another labeling trick here as well. Products can claim to be “whole grain” or “whole wheat” if that is one of the ingredients. So, you have to read the label carefully. Ingredients are listed in the order of quantity in the product. In most of these “whole grain” crackers or cereals the primary ingredient is still enriched flour. The whole grain will be further down the ingredient list.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (262) 389-9907 or go to