The US Department of Agriculture issues dietary guidelines every 5 years based on the latest research and trends within the US. The past few guidelines have included “making at least 50% of your grains whole”, but what are grains and how do we know if they are whole?
What are grains?
Grains can be foods like wheat, rice, semolina, oats, cornmeal and other cereal grains or foods made from them like pasta and breads.
What are whole grains?
Grains are two kinds: whole and refined. In refined grains the bran and germ layers are removed. These are the outermost layers of the grain and contain a lot of the nutrients including fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Whole grains retain these nutrients.
What are enriched grains?
Since refined grains lose many of their nutrients in the process they are enriched. This means many nutrients are added back in after processing including the iron and B vitamins. Fiber is not included though. If you are choosing refined grains, it is important to check the ingredients to make sure they are enriched grains (the word enriched will be included before the grain).
How to identify whole grains?
Whole grains are commonly known as “brown _____” so brown bread or brown rice but this can be misleading. A grain that is brown is not automatically whole. The best way to identify a whole grain is to read the ingredient list, the first item on the list needs to contain the word “whole”.
These are a few common question but may not answer everything. If you have anymore questions, please let us know!
You may also check out the ChooseMyPlate.gov website to learn more on grains including how many you need and how to identify a serving of grains: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains