Got the Skinny on Whole Grains?

Layne Arceneaux-Langley  |  11/2/2017 3:57:59 PM

By now you have seen or heard how important whole grains are for you and that they should be added to your daily diet.

Grains, especially whole grains, provide many health benefits. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Grains also provide many nutrients that our bodies need for health and maintenance. Check out these health benefits:

• Eating foods that are high in fiber, like whole grains, reduces the risk of heart disease.

• Eating foods high in fiber, such as whole grains, may reduce constipation.

• Eating at least 3 ounce equivalents a day of whole grains may help with weight management.

• Eating grains fortified with folate before and during pregnancy helps prevent certain birth defects.

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Some common examples of grain foods include: bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas and grits. Grains are divided into two groups—whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice are all whole grain foods.

Refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ. This gives grains a finer texture and improves their shelf life. However, it removes dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. White flour, white bread and white rice are examples of refined grains. Most refined grains are enriched. This means that certain B vitamins and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains though.

whole grain stamp picjpg



Are you ready to make the switch and try whole grain products? If so, choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients FIRST on the label’s ingredient list:



Brown rice Whole oats

Bulgur Whole rye

Graham flour Whole wheat

Oatmeal Wild rice

Whole-grain corn

Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain”, “stone-ground” “100% wheat”, “cracked wheat”, “seven grain” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products. Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Always check the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.

You cannot go wrong with whole grains. Need help selecting whole grain products? Follow the suggestions in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, where a serving of whole grain is defined as any of the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

(Note that The US Dietary Guidelines do not actually use the word "serving." They call the amounts above "ounce-equivalents.")

Source: Smart Choices Nutrition News and www.wholegrainscouncil.org

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