Make Half Your Grains Whole

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005 are being revised and are slated to be released as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010

in the fall of this year. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to “make half your grains whole”. But what exactly does this mean?

According to the DHHS and USDA’s President’s Food Safety Working Group, approximately 50 cents of every food dollar in the US is spent outside the home. With the knowledge that restaurants and ready to eat meals offer very few whole-grain options, dietitians and healthcare professionals urge Americans to increase whole-grain consumption at home. You can find a list of what is and what is not a whole grain in this previous post.

When selecting whole grain foods for home consumption, there are essentially three areas you can examine at to determine whether or not a food is a good source of whole grain:

  1. Ingredient list: Look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient in the ingredient list; ingredients are listed in order by weight
  2. Dietary fiber: Look for foods that have 3 grams of fiber or more per serving (typically every 100 calories or 1 oz)
  3. Grams of whole grain in foods that are a mix of whole and enriched grains: 16 grams of whole grain ingredients counts as a full serving

Food products are increasingly being labeled with the number of grams of whole grain content. A whole grain product has 16 grams of whole grain per serving; but you may see the Whole Grain Stamp listing half servings of whole grain (8 grams) per serving as well. Keep in mind that high fiber is not always the same as whole grain. Many foods have isolated or functional fibers that are added to traditionally low fiber, enriched grain products.

The Grains group in and the American Dietetic Association recommend that inactive Americans have the following total number of grains per day and that half of these be whole grains:

The American Dietetic Association’s Nutrition Fact Sheet “Whole Grains Made Easy” recommends incorporating some of the following foods into your daily routine in an attempt to “make half your grains whole”:

  • Whole grain bagel
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Wild rice
  • Whole grain English muffin
  • Whole grain veggie burger
  • Bulgur pilar
  • Barley mushroom soup
  • Whole grain pizza crust