Making half your grains whole is healthy and delicious

The USDA recommends that half of the grains we eat be whole. Here are some tips to achieve this.

How many whole grain products do you eat as part of your daily diet? Most of us need to increase the amount of whole grains we are consuming. When we hear the phrase “whole grains”, many people think of “brown” bread, rice or pasta.

While it is true that whole grain pastas, rice and breads are a great way to add more whole grains to our diets, there are other foods that can help you reach the goal of eating half your grains from whole grains. Enjoy other sources of whole grains from popcorn, barley, oatmeal, brown rice, buckwheat, wild rice, and whole wheat bread, rice, pasta, and crackers. Whole grain cereals are another option but be sure to look for those made with whole grain and high fiber. When you are searching for whole grain foods, read the ingredient list on the product and look for the word “whole”. Also, make sure whole grain is one of the first words on the list.

It might be easiest to gradually incorporate whole grains into your diet rather than switching immediately. Start by mixing brown and white rice or pasta together or make a sandwich using one piece of enriched white bread and one piece of whole wheat bread. Try these tips to add more whole grains to your meals:

  • Enjoy breakfasts that include whole grain cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat or oatmeal.
  • Substitute whole wheat toast or whole grain bagels for enriched white products.
  • Make sandwiches using whole grain breads or rolls. Try a whole wheat flour tortilla or English muffin instead of enriched white flour products.
  • Try whole grain pasta for lunch or dinner. In most grocery stores, several whole wheat or whole grain varieties are now available.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice, wild rice or bulgur.
  • Add brown rice, wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
  • Add whole grains, such as cooked brown rice or whole grain bread crumbs, to ground meat or poultry.
  • Use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal in recipes instead of dry bread crumbs.

A great resource to determine how many calories per day you should be eating and how many grams of whole grain you need is the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate.

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