Most people consume enough grains, but very few of them are whole grains. The amount you need depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. You can find out the amount you need by visiting the Choose My Plate website. At least half of the grains eaten should be whole grains(PDF).
Why is it important to eat whole grains?
Whole grains are part of a healthy diet and offer a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. These grains provide nutrients that are vital for your health and maintenance of your body.
• Grains are important sources of dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium).
• Dietary fiber from whole grains or other foods may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
• The B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism – they help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system.
• Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years have iron-deficiency anemia.
• Whole grains are sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation. It is also important for a healthy immune system.
What are some examples of whole grains?
The ingredient list is the place to look when trying to determine if you are eating a whole grain product. Choose foods that list one of these as the first ingredient: brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, rolled oats, whole-grain barley, whole-grain corn, whole-grain sorghum, whole-grain triticale, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat, wild rice. Be careful not to be tricked by the word “whole” or “wheat” on the product label.
Now that you know what to look for, try to incorporate products that contain whole grains on your grocery list.
Need ideas about what to buy or make? Take a look at this short video with meal ideas using whole grains.