Incorporating tasty and well-liked whole-grain foods can be as simple as
substituting whole-grain buns for refined grain at lunch or switching to whole-
grain cereals for breakfast. It can also involve testing and serving new dishes
made with brown rice, whole-grain pastas, and more novel grains such as kamut
National guidelines recommend eating at least three servings of whole-grain
foods every day. Most Americans get less than a single daily serving. Children
and adults are encouraged to make half of their grain intake whole grain. We all
need to know about the benefits of whole-grain foods, what a whole grain is,
and how to identify and purchase whole-grain foods.
Whole grains contain disease-fighting nutrients and
phytochemicals, such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium,
iron, zinc, copper, and fiber. Epidemiological evidence shows that
at least three daily servings of whole grains can decrease the risk of:
Heart disease by 25%–36%
Stroke by 36%
Type 2 diabetes by 21%–35%
Digestive system cancers by 21%–43%
Hormone-related cancers by 10%–40%
People who consume whole grains are at a decreased risk of obesity and may
have a lower cholesterol level.
A whole grain is defined as containing the entire edible seed of the plant,
including the germ, bran, and endosperm, while refined grain includes only the
endosperm. After the whole grain is processed, each part of the seed must be
present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain for the
product to be considered whole grain. Refined grain products are those made
with grain that has had one or more parts of the grain kernel removed during
processing (all-purpose flour, white rice).
The USDA defines a grain serving as containing 16 grams of flour. This means 48
grams of whole-grain flour must be consumed to meet the three daily
recommended servings of whole-grain foods. A good way to help meet this
recommendation is to find whole-grain alternatives for refined grain items.
The food package contains several clues to help identify whole-grain products.
These include the ingredient list and the use of the whole-grain health claim or a
Look for whole grain as the first ingredient in the
ingredient list to help determine whether the
product is whole grain.
There may be several sources of whole grains in
one food. The first ingredient will represent the
primary ingredient in the product, but if the second, third, and fourth ingredients
are whole grain, the product can still represent an important source of whole
Some whole-grain products have a higher fiber content than refined grain
counterparts (as indicated on the Nutrition Facts Panel), but this not a foolproof
way to identify a whole-grain product. The fiber content of a food depends on
the type of grain used. Some grains contain less fiber than others.
Grain (100 grams) Fiber
Whole wheat 12.2 grams
Whole corn meal 7.3 grams
Brown rice 1.8 grams
The amount of fiber in a food made with these grains will also vary (a 30-gram
serving of brown rice has 0.5 grams of fiber and a 30-gram serving of corn chips
made with whole corn meal has 1 gram of fiber), but both are considered whole-
Examples of whole grains and whole-grain food products include:
amaranth grano triticale
barley kamut grain whole rye
brown rice millet whole wheat
buckwheat oatmeal wheat berries
bulgur popcorn wild rice
whole cornmeal quinoa
For additional information http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/grains_counts.html
Modifying menus: substituting whole grains or whole-grain foods for non-
whole-grain familiar foods
Mix whole-grain pasta with non-whole-grain pasta.
Use brown rice instead of white rice or serve a mixture.
Serve whole-grain couscous.
Use whole-grain bread products to make garlic toast.
Serve whole-grain crackers with soup.
Serve cornbread made with whole cornmeal.
Serve whole-grain flour tortillas.
Source: Whole Grains, Keeping Kids From Falling Short, U of MN Extension service 2006
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