Know Your Whole Grains continued...
Another aid to find whole-grain products is to look for the Whole Grain Council's whole-grain stamp, which shows how many grams of whole grains are in each serving. If all of the grain is whole grain, the stamp also displays a "100%" banner.
The amount of grains you need daily varies based on your age, sex, and physical activity level. In general, adults need between 5 to 8 ounce equivalents of grains each day, and at least half are recommended to come from whole grains. Examples of an ounce equivalent include 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of cereal, 1/2 cup of cooked pasta or rice. You can determine how much you need by checking the U.S. government's MyPlate website.
More Whole Grain Products
The good news is that whole grains are not necessarily brown or only found in adult cereals. You can find them throughout the food supply, including many processed foods.
Since the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended that Americans eat more whole grains, there has been an explosion of whole-grain options. Even many restaurants now offer brown rice and other whole grains options.
For whole-grain nutrition without the "grainy" taste, there are newly reformulated products that use lighter whole wheats and new processing techniques to make them look and taste more like white flour.
These "white whole-grain" products are a great way to transition into eating more whole grains, particularly if your kids are turning their noses up at them.
Whole Grains and Fiber
Whole grains can be an excellent source of fiber. But not all whole grains are good sources of fiber. Whole wheat contains among the highest amount of fiber of the whole grains. Brown rice contains the least.
For most people, whole grains are their diet's best source of fiber.
Most whole-grain sources yield from 1-4 grams of fiber per serving, comparable to fruits and vegetables, and just the right amount when spread throughout the day.
Can't fiber supplements give you the same benefit? While you get plenty of fiber from these supplements, you'll miss out on all the other nutritional benefits of whole grains. However, if you know you're not getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day, fiber supplements are a great way to help you get there.
8 Easy Ways to Get More Whole Grains into Your Diet
Learning to enjoy whole grains is simply a matter of retraining your taste buds to become familiar with the fuller, nuttier flavor of the grain, experts say.
Whole grains taste and feel different to the mouth, and therefore it takes time to adjust to these new grains.
Here are eight easy ways to work more whole grains into your daily diet:
- Choose whole-grain breads, cereals, English muffins, waffles, bagels, and crackers. Enjoy a sandwich at lunch with two slices of whole-grain bread, or a whole-grain pita or wrap, and you're two-thirds of the way toward meeting your goal.
- Eat popcorn. What could be easier than eating air-popped popcorn as a snack? A study in the 2008 May issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who regularly ate popcorn averaged 2.5 servings of whole grains per day, while non-popcorn eaters got less than one serving.
- Make your snacks whole grain. Snacks account for one-third of whole grain consumption - just make sure you choose the right ones. Check the label, because even though it is made with a whole grain, it could still be high in fat, calories, and sodium.
- Start your day with a bowl of whole-grain cereal. Members of the National Weight Control Registry who have lost substantial amounts of weight -- and kept it off -- swear by the importance of eating a nutritious breakfast, such as cereal, each day. But keep in mind that even when a product is made from whole grain, it's not necessarily healthy. Read the label and select cereals based on the whole-grain content and amount of sugar it contains. The less sugar, the better.
- Add whole grains to your baked goods. Try blending half whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour to boost the whole-grain content of your baked goods. You can also use white wheat flour, available in your local grocery store. Another option is to replace one-third of the flour with whole-grain oats.
- Choose brown rice and whole-wheat or blended pasta. Cook up a batch of brown rice and keep it in your refrigerator for 4-5 day and eat on it throughout the week. If time is an issue, there are ready brown rice products. Try whole-grain pasta, or some of the blended pastas made with a mix of whole and refined grains. Don't be put off by the dark color of whole-grain pasta. It becomes much lighter when it is cooked.
- Experiment with different grains. Visit your local health food market and try your hand at some of the less-familiar whole grains available. Try risottos, pilafs, whole-grain salads, and other grain dishes made with brown rice, millet, quinoa, or sorghum. Add uncooked oats to meatloaf or stir oats into yogurt for crunch and added nutrition.
- Start your kids off right. Expose your kids to whole grains at an early age. For older kids, try the white whole-wheat flour, and incorporate whole grains into foods that have other flavors such as French toast. Serve burgers on whole-grain buns or brown rice with veggies. Add whole grains to soups or dishes like shrimp Creole. Try whole-wheat pitas as crusts for make-your-own individual pizzas.