Whole Grains at Home

According to the USDA “the more moms understand about whole grains and the health benefits they provide, the more likely they are to serve them to their families.”  Moms in the typical American household play a significant role in nurturing, guidance and family growth…and, very likely to shop, cook and prepare meals for their family. So for moms in Central MN this blog is for you!  Here are some tips and information to help you help your family eat more whole grains.

Give yourself and those you love the goodness of whole grains.

Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains – such as bread, tortillas, pasta and cereals. Whole grains are good for your heart and digestion, and can help you maintain a healthy weight and good overall health.

How to Tell If It Is a Whole Grain?

Buy the real thing. It’s worth it to know your family will get the healthy goodness of whole grains. Because some foods that seem to be whole grains may not be, it’s important to know what to look for.

  • Choose foods that are naturally whole grains: Some foods are always whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice and popcorn.
  • Check the information on the package: Buy bread, cereal, tortillas, and pasta with “100% Whole Grain” or “100% Whole Wheat” on the package. Foods with the following words on the label are usually not 100% whole grain products.

− 100% wheat              − Multi-grain          − Contains whole grain          − 7 grains          − Bran
− Cracked wheat         − Made with whole grains          − Made with whole wheat         

  • Check the ingredient list: Take a few seconds to see if the food is made from whole grains. Look for the word “whole” before the first ingredient. Some examples of whole grain ingredients include:
− brown rice        − buckwheat     − bulgur     
− quinoa      − graham flour     − oatmeal         
− rolled oats     − wild rice    − whole rye         
− whole oats     − whole wheat     
− whole‐grain barley    − whole‐grain corn    
 
 
  • Color can be misleading.  Foods like breads, pasta, rice, and tortillas that are dark in color may not be 100% whole‐grain foods. And, some lighter color grain foods may be 100% whole‐grain foods, such as “100% White Whole Wheat” bread. To make sure a food is a whole‐grain food, check the ingredients using the tips above.

Whole grains make a difference.

Whole grains help keep your heart healthy and are good for digestion and a healthy weight. Choose foods with “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grains” on the label. Or check the ingredient list to see if the word “whole” is before the first ingredient listed (for example, whole wheat flour). If it is, it’s whole‐grain.

Whole Grains and Your Family’s Health

Whole grains are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that help keep your kids healthy and strong. Make sure your kids get the goodness of this “whole” nutrition every day. Here is just some of what whole grains can do for your kids:

  • Whole grains help fuel kids’ days by providing and helping them maintain energy.
  • The fiber in whole grain foods keeps your kids feeling full longer, and that can help with a healthy body weight.
  • The minerals in whole grains help maintain normal muscles, nerves and a healthy immune system.
  • Whole grains have B vitamins for healthy red blood cells. They also help manage healthy blood glucose (sugar).
  • Whole grains are good for digestion and general health.

Adults benefit from whole grains, too. Eating whole‐grain foods that are high in fiber can help protect against heart disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, support a healthy body weight, and is good for overall health. That’s the goodness of whole grains.

How Much Is Enough Each Day?

In general, most family members need to eat about 6‐8 ounces of grains daily, such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, and tortillas. Younger kids (age 8 or less) need a little less – about 3‐5 ounces. A good rule of thumb is that at least half of these grains should be whole grains. So, that’s about 3 ounces of whole grains for adults each day, and 1 ½ to 2 ½ ounces for younger kids age 8 years or less. (Some active children may need more calories and therefore more grains.)

What counts as an ounce of whole grains?

Here are a few examples:

  • 1 regular slice of whole grain bread
  • 1 cup dry ready‐to‐eat whole grain cereal flakes
  • ½ cup of cooked brown or wild rice, oatmeal or whole grain pasta
  • 1 whole grain tortilla (6” diameter)
  • 1 pancake (5” diameter) made with whole grain flour
  • A small whole grain muffin

Start children early with whole grains.

It’s easy to get your kids in the habit of eating and enjoying whole grains if you start when they are young.  Whole grains give your kids B vitamins, minerals and fiber to help them be strong and healthy.