“Whole grains” are grains that are intact. They are considered as kernels of the grains, which may be cracked, flaked or ground, but retain the same relative proportions of the starchy endosperm, germ and bran as the intact grain. Once the bran is removed, the grain is no longer “whole”. (1, 2)
The “whole grains” is a food group considered by the USDA due to its similar nutritional profile and culinary usage. Whole grains do not only include grasses from the Poaceae family but also pseudo grains such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. Examples of whole grains include: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, sorghum, teff, triticale, wheat (including spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, Kamut, durum) and wild rice.
Oilseeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds are not considered as whole grains by the USDA.
Legumes such as soybeans and chickpeas are not considered as whole grains by the USDA.