Healthy Children - March 2012


Adding Up Your Whole Grains!

You may have heard about whole grains and that we need more in our diet. Whole grain logos are popping up on food packages everywhere! When making your children breakfast, you even notice the number of “whole grain servings” on the box. So what does this mean and why do we need them?

What are whole grains?

Foods that are considered “whole grain” include all three parts of the grain. These three parts are: the bran, germ, and endosperm. In white bread and pasta, the germ and bran have been taken out.

What foods have whole grains in them?

There are a number of foods that are considered a “whole grain”. First look at a food’s ingredient list and the word “whole” must be the first word in order for the food to be considered “whole grain”. For example, if you are trying to pick out a type of bread that is considered a “whole grain”, look for “whole wheat flour” or “whole grain” as the first ingredients on the ingredient list. Here is a list of the common whole grain foods:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat cereal
  • Whole grain pita bread
  • Whole grain orzo
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Kasha
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Amaranth


Why do we need whole grains?

Most whole grains are full of fiber. Fiber is important to our bodies and helps our digestive tract stay healthy. Fiber leaves us feeling fuller longer so we will not need to snack on unhealthy foods during the day. Whole grains also contain many vitamins and minerals important for disease and prevention. Whole grains play an important role in keeping you healthy and reducing your risk for coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Whole grains also help you keep a healthy body weight. You should try to have at least three servings of whole grains each day. A serving can be one slice of whole wheat bread, of ½ cup cooked brown rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.