Grains are fundamental ingredients in snacks and baked goods, providing function, flavor, texture and nutrition. Grains are classified as either whole grains or refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel—the endosperm, bran and germ—whereas refined grains have been processed to remove the bran and the germ, which also removes the dietary fiber, iron and some of the B vitamins. Many refined grains are subsequently enriched with certain B vitamins and iron to compensate for the loss of nutrients during processing.
The nutrients that grains provide are important for overall health and wellness. For example, B vitamins play a key role in metabolism, and dietary fiber, from whole grains, may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.