The Best Cheat Sheet for Finding Whole Grains on Any Food Label


looking at the food label on any box of crackers, any loaf of bread, any bag of burger buns, any package of cookies…and being able to tell if it actually contains whole grains.

Imagine no longer. Just click to download your very own copy of my whole grain cheat sheet: an alphabetical list of every term that refers to a whole grain, plus other terms that can trip you up, including misleading marketing messages found on packages.

📄 Diana's Whole Grain Cheat Sheet

Why should I care about eating whole grains?

Most people haven’t a clue why they should eat them. Besides helping you lose weight and avoid diabetes, click on this link to learn more of the amazing health benefits of eating whole grains:

What exactly is a whole grain?

Grains are actually the seeds of plants. These seeds have three main parts: the bran layers, the germ and the endosperm. When you’re eating whole grains, you’re eating grains with all their parts.

Check out these posts with illustrations of the parts of whole grains and all the good stuff they contain.

You can see there’s a lot of good nutrition in the bran layers and the germ (fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals). We need all those nutrients to be healthy and stay slim. But it’s the bran and germ that are removed when whole grains are refined.

What‘s left is the endosperm: mostly starch and protein. We need that starch and protein, but when the fiber and all those nutrients are removed, that can lead to health problems and weight gain.

Use this simple test to be sure you’re getting mostly whole grains

In order for those crackers or that loaf of bread to be mostly whole grain, a whole grain needs to be the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Not the second or the third, but the first, like the example below.

So what’s a whole grain and what isn’t? Just whip out Diana’s Whole Grain Cheat Sheet and you are master of the whole grains in the ingredient list. Way to go whole grain pro. Way to go.

Let’s practice

Before you’re let loose into the cold, cruel world of whole grain label reading, here’s a little trial run.

Below is an ingredient list. Using Diana’s Whole Grain Cheat Sheet, try your hand at listing the whole grain ingredients, the parts of grains and the refined grains in this product. Don’t cheat! Try it first. Then scroll down to view the correct answers.

label of ingredients


Whole grains: whole grain corn flour, whole grain oat flour

Parts of whole grains:oat fiber, soluble corn fiber

Refined grains: wheat flour

Let’s practice together in the comments

If you’re game, go ahead and upload pictures of ingredient lists from products in your pantry so your fellow readers can jump in and identify what’s whole grain and what’s not.

I need your help

I said this list has every whole grain term, but that was probably a delusion of grandeur. I’m sure I missed some. So please let me know what you run across that isn’t anywhere on my list so I can add it. I would really appreciate it...and so would your fellow readers.


Diana Fleming


June 24, 2014 - 9:00am

Diana Fleming, PhD, LDN, is a co-author of The Full Plate Diet and Nutritionist for Full Plate Living. She received her doctoral degree from Tufts University and has since dedicated her time to translating complicated nutritional data into easy and fun concepts anyone can apply at their next meal. In her spare time, she has painstakingly perfected the ultimate healthy AND delicious chocolate chip cookie.

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