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The Scoop on Whole Grain Foods

The Scoop on Whole Grain Foods

Whole grain foods are recommended as part of healthy eating, yet nine out of ten Americans don’t eat the recommended amounts. According to nutrition experts, whole grains may help reduce the risk for CVD, heart disease and can even help with weight management.

What Makes a Grain Whole?

Any grain, such as wheat, oats, corn and rice, is considered “whole” when it includes the right proportion of all three parts of the grain: bran, endosperm and germ. Each part of a grain kernel contributes to the bundle of nutrients in whole grains, including fiber, B vitamins, protein, vitamin E, trace minerals and other healthful plant substances. Thus,eating foods made from whole grain gives you the nutritional benefits of the entire grain. When grains are refined, the bran and germ portions are removed along with important nutrients, leaving only the endosperm (e.g., refined white flour).

Get Your Daily Grain

Any way you pour, slice or spoon them, whole grain foods offer several health benefits. Try some of these tasty ways to make whole grains a regular part of your day.

  • Rise and dine on whole grain cereal to get the first of your three daily servings of whole grains.
  • Use whole grain pasta, barley or bulgur in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
  • Make the switch to brown rice, or try a combination of brown and white rice.
  • When you make bread, muffins, biscuits, cookies, pancakes or waffles, substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour.
  • Take whole grain to lunch— a sandwich on whole grain bread, tortillas or pita bread are delicious with any meal.
  • Snack on whole grains such as popcorn, low fat granola made with whole oats, multigrain or brown rice cakes or snack mixes made with whole grain cereal.
  • Try polenta, corn bread or corn cakes made with whole cornmeal.
  • Be adventurous and try a variety of whole grains, like whole grain barley, whole wheat bulgur, kasha (buckwheat), triticale, quinoa and wheat berries (wheat kernels).
  • Use whole grain bread crumbs, crackers or oats in meatloaf, meatballs and hamburgers.
  • Try ground oats, cornmeal or crushed whole grain crackers or unsweetened whole grain cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish, or veal cutlets.
  • Bake your own whole grain chips using whole wheat pita bread, bagel slices or tortillas.

Choosing Whole Grain Foods

Many of today’s grain foods are available in whole grain varieties including breads, cereals, pasta, crackers, tortillas, pancakes, waffles and muffins. Choose MyPlate.gov advises at least three servings of foods on the whole grains list per day.

A serving of whole grain... Is equal to*...
Cereal 1 cup flakes or rounds, 1¼ cup puffed, ½ cup cooked
Bread 1 slice of bread, 1 small roll or “mini” bagel, ½ of a bun, pita or English muffin
Tortilla 1 small (6-inch) flour or corn tortilla
Pasta or brown rice ½ cup cooked
Crackers 5-7 crackers
Pancakes or waffles 1 pancake or waffle (4½-inch diameter)
Muffins 1 small muffin (2½-inch diameter)
*These serving amounts also apply to refined grains.

Try these Healthy Living recipes that feature whole grain ingredients and are packed with flavor.

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