Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the minimum recommended amount of whole grains. Although Americans generally eat enough total grains, most of the grains consumed are refined grains rather than whole grains. Unfortunately, many refined grain foods also are high in solid fats and added sugars. There is evidence that suggests whole grain intake may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (e.g., colon) as well as help control body weight. Whole grains are a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. At least half of recommended total grain intake should be whole grains, which for many is about 3 ounce equivalents per day.
Not sure if a food is actually a whole grain? Use these three steps to help you decide:
- Front of package—Check the front of the package for key terms such as “100% whole grain,” “whole oats,” “made with whole wheat.”
- Ingredients—Read the list of ingredients; one of the first three should contain key terms such as “100% whole wheat,” “whole wheat flour,” “whole oats,” or “brown rice.”
- Extra claims and logos—Examine the other panels for extra whole grain health claims or whole grain stamps/symbols that will support your decision.
A new publication Whole Grains is now available. Whole Grains includes a wide variety of information about whole grains including how to use some of the newer whole grains such as quinoa, teef, and steel cut oats. An extensive whole grain chart includes nutritional and cooking information on many whole grains.