While carbohydrates are often shunned, whole grains are important for a healthy, balanced diet. They are the largest source of fiber in the diet for most Americans and a good source of valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Celebrate Whole Grains Month with some important fundamental facts.
The United States Dietary Guidelines recommends 3 full servings, or 3 ounces, of whole grains a day for adults and two servings for children. One serving of whole grains (16 grams) is the equivalent of eating:
- One slice of whole grain bread or a 1/2 of a whole grain English muffin.
- 1/3 cup cooked whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, bulgur, or other cooked grain.
A whole grain contains all three original parts — the bran, germ, and endosperm — in the same proportions as when the grain was growing in a ﬁeld.
- The bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins, and ﬁber.
- The germ is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant. It contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
- The endosperm is the germ’s food supply and the largest part of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- A grain is considered refined if it is missing the bran, germ and/or endosperm that is found in a whole grain. White flour and white rice are refined grains.
- The term “enriched” or “fortified” indicates one or more nutrient, such a vitamin, mineral or protein, is added to a refined food during processing. This is closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
When looking for whole grain products, always check the food label:
- The ingredient list will typically include a whole grain as the first ingredient.
- Watch out for marketing “tricks.” Words like “fiber,” “stoneground,” “cracked wheat,” and “multigrain” on a label may not translate to 100% whole grain products.
- Look for the whole grain stamp which signifies if a product is 100% whole grain or if contains at least a half a serving of a whole grain. Keep in mind that the Whole Grain Council stamp is optional and not all whole grain products will have this stamp.
When discussing whole grains, typically whole grain breads and brown rice come to mind. To get a better idea of the wide variety of whole grains available, check out our grain aisle. Pick up some quinoa, farro, teff, buckwheat grouts, or kamat, for starters. If you can boil water, you can cook up any of these heart healthy grains! Don’t forget about all the whole grain pastas, cereals, and crackers as well.
Try these whole grain recipes:
Chicken Thighs with Farro – Farro is a Middle Eastern whole grain with a chewy texture and a mild taste, making it a great base for the flavorful vegetable mixture.
Quinoa Spinach Quiche – Here’s a delicious spinach quiche with a healthy twist. Quinoa and egg whites make this spinach quiche hearty in flavor and light in calories for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Blackberry Crisp – If you are looking for something “whole” and “sweet,” this Blackberry Crisp made with fiber rich berries and whole-wheat flour and oats hits the mark. Feel free to sub out blueberries or raspberries in the flavorful dessert!