Why whole grains in the diet?
Dietary recommendations suggest that at least half of your daily bread and cereal servings should include whole grains. In other words, include whole grains in at least 3 of your 6 daily servings. This recommendation results from the association of increased whole grain intake and the reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, plus control of weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
What is a serving and how much should I get in a day?
A serving from the bread and cereal group is 1 ounce, which is 1 regular slice of bread, 1 cup of ‘airy’ ready-to-eat cereals or 1/3 cup granola-type cereals, 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta or other grain, or a 6” tortilla. You would strive to get at least 48 grams of whole grains per day, such as 3 servings containing 16 grams of whole grain or 6 servings containing 8 grams of whole grain.
What is the difference between whole and refined grains?
‘Whole’ in the term whole grain means that all three parts of the cereal grain – the bran, germ, and endosperm – are present. ‘Whole’ does not mean unprocessed; the kernel may be crushed, flaked, rolled or ground as long as the three components are present. Refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, have had the nutrient-rich outer layers removed. Whole grains deliver more fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals than refined grains, even if the refined grains have been enriched.
How can I recognize whole grain foods?
The following are always whole grain: amaranth, brown, wild and colored rices, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), graham flour, millet, oatmeal, popcorn and quinoa. Label terms such as 100 percent wheat, wholesome, organic, stone ground, pumpernickel, or multigrain lead some into thinking they are whole grains, when they may not be. Wheat, rye, corn, oats, barley, and wheat relatives (spelt, kamut and triticale) can be found in both whole and refined forms, so label reading is important. Check the ingredient list for the words whole wheat, whole (other grain), whole grain (name of grain), and stone ground whole (name of grain) to decide if they are made from whole grain.
Having whole grain as the first ingredient on the ingredient statement is the surest way to know a food is whole grain. However, foods containing whole grain mixtures may contribute whole grains without having a whole grain as the first ingredient. An FDA-approved whole grain health claim or the Whole Grains Council™ stamp on the package are other ways to help identify whole grains.
Easy ways to add whole grains to your diet:
- Switch to whole grain ready-to-eat or cooked cereals, such as oatmeal.
- Substitute whole grain flours for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin and any non-yeast bread recipes.
- Savor the taste of whole grain pastas, crackers and snack foods.
- Make sandwiches using whole grain breads, rolls or tortillas.
- Enjoy whole grain toast, bagels and muffins for breakfast and snacks.
- Liven up side dishes, soups, and casseroles with unusual whole grains.
- Try new recipes using whole grains.
Some examples of products containing whole grains:
Breads: Lunds and Byerly’s Organic Sprouted 16 Grain Bread and Bake at Home Organic Petite Whole Grain Rolls; Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Waffles; Krusteaz Wheat & Honey Complete Pancake Mix
Crackers: Triscuit Whole Grain Wheat Crackers; Wheat Thins; Wasa Crispbread; Kalvi Whole Grain Crispbread; Ry Krisp Crackers; Kashi Crackers; Mary’s Gone Crackers
- Lunds and Byerly’s Deli Salads: Seven Grain Salad; Cran Wheat Berry Salad; Minnesota Medley; Quinoa, Cranberry and Pumpkin Seed Salad; Quinoa, Bean and Lentil Salad; Whole Grain Pasta Salad; Couscous Brown Rice Salad
Pasta: Full Circle Whole Wheat; Garofalo Whole Wheat; Ronzoni Healthy Harvest; Gia Russa Whole Wheat; Barilla Whole Grain
Ready to Eat Cereals: All General Mills Cereals; Full Circle Cereals; Kashi Cereals
Snack and Cereal Bars: Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Bars; General Mills Fiber One Chewy Bars; Kashi Granola Bars, Snack Bars and Fruit and Grain Bars; Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars
For more information:
American Dietetic Association
The Whole Grains Council
United States Dept. of Agriculture
This information has been reviewed by Julie Miller Jones, PHD, CNS, LN
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