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Tips for Reaping the Benefits of Whole Grains

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Know Your Whole Grains continued...

That's why it's important to check the ingredients 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 by weight.

The amount of grains you need daily varies based on your age, sex, and physical activity level, but to keep it simple, the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines say whole grains should make up half of your grain intake.

More Whole-Grain Products

The good news is that whole grains are not necessarily brown, or multigrain, or only found in adult cereals. You can find them throughout the food supply, including many processed foods.

Recently, there has been an increase in whole-grain options in products ranging from pastas to most cereals. Even many restaurants now offer brown rice and other whole-grain 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 children are turning their noses up at them or will only eat white bread.

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 to 4 g of fiber per serving, comparable to fruit and vegetables, and just the right amount when spread throughout the day.

Can 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 g of fiber per day, fiber supplements are a great way to help you get there. Women need 25 g per day, while men should get about 38 g per day.

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