A Closer Look at Whole Grains

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What are the health benefits of whole grains? Breads, cereals and tortillas may be popular with your family, but are they good for you? They are if they’re made from whole grains.

What is the difference between whole grains and refined grains?

Often breads, pastries and pastas are made from refined grains or “white flour,” which offers much less nutritional value and may lead to weight gain. Whole-grain products, on the other hand, are packed with protein, B vitamins, dietary fiber and minerals, making them a healthier choice than white breads or pastas.

The American Heart Association strongly encourages you to add whole grains to your diet to help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Choosing whole grains for a healthy lifestyle

Eating a diet with whole grains has significant health benefits, but many adults and children don’t get the recommended servings daily. Grocery stores are saturated with refined-grain products, so it’s important to read food labels closely.

The USDA recommends that at least half the grains you eat in a day come from whole-grain products to reap the health benefits.

What should you look for?

Brown colors alone will not identify whole grains. Also, terms like “multi-grain,” “organic” or “100 % wheat” may sound like healthier options, but they do not necessarily mean that item is made from whole grains.

The key is to look for a whole grain in the ingredient list. If it is listed first, then you can be sure that loaf of bread has more heart-healthy whole grains than any other ingredient.

Some examples of whole grains include:
• Quinoa
• Couscous
• Buckwheat
• Brown or wild rice
• 100 % whole wheat
• Bulgur (cracked wheat)
• Whole oats

Take this list with you to the market and compare the food labels of your favorite products. Try and replace at least half of your baked goods with whole-grain products to get the most value for your health today!

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