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Know Your Whole Grains continued...

That's why it's important to check the ingredient list for the word "whole" preceding the grain (such as "whole wheat flour"). Ideally, the whole grain will be the first ingredient in the list, indicating that the product contains more whole grain than any other ingredient.

One way to find whole grains is to look for the FDA-approved health claim that reads, "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers." This is found on whole-grain products that contain at least 51% whole grain ingredients (by weight) and are also low in fat. 

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.

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