Understanding Whole Grains

Understanding Whole Grains

Photo credit: Marie Arick

Many Americans are more aware of whole grain food consumption as part of a healthy meal plan. In fact, the International Food Information Council’s 2015 survey found that 67% of those surveyed reported reading product labels for whole grains when shopping for packaged foods.

So, what is a whole grain? A whole grain must contain the germ, the bran, and the endosperm in the same state as it was in the field prior to harvest. Generally, most associate fiber with whole grains. In contrast, a refined grain lacks the germ and the bran that contain the fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Take whole wheat, for example – it contains the trace minerals iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium, antioxidants, folate, and the following B vitamins – niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin.

Why choose whole grains? The fiber content can help to maintain a healthy weight, as it bulks once consumed, and can make one feel fuller, hence consuming fewer calories. Additionally, the fiber can aid with constipation. Other benefits of eating a diet rich in whole grains include decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer due to the nutritional content, namely the antioxidant properties.

How much is enough? Children ideally should consume two servings minimum and adults three servings minimum each day. It is ideal for at least half of the grains you consume to be whole grains. Look for the 100% Whole Grain stamp on labels while shopping. It is a now on over 12,000 products, including cereals, breads, chips, flour, pasta, and so much more, in 58 countries.

Understanding what whole grains are and why choosing them can aid with health and well-being is important. Challenge yourself to look for the whole grain stamp and increase your daily intake, for your health.

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/reap-the-benefits-of-whole-grains#1 https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains-nutrients-health https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/how-much-enough https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grain-stamp/its-working


Start Your Day with Whole Grains

Start Your Day with Whole Grains

Start Your Day with Whole Grains Photo Source: Pamela Allen

Don’t let the heat of the summer months deter your path to a healthy diet. Stay focused and take small steps that can make a difference in your health. Breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet. Most of us struggle with what to have on hand that is quick, healthy and gets us on track for our daily intake of healthy food. Start your day right by eating whole grains.

The two types of grains are whole and refined. Grain products include bread, pasta, cereals, rice, corn, oatmeal and barley. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA MyPlate) recommends that people of all ages get half their grain servings from whole grain sources. How do you determine what is whole grain and what is refined? Read the food’s Nutrition Facts label and know the symbol for whole grains. The “Whole Grain Stamp” is a visual symbol placed on the label that identifies foods approved by the Whole Grains Council. Also look at the list of ingredients and if whole grains are listed first, it is a good source of whole grains. Remember that ingredients are listed from most to least so whole grains should be up in the top part of the ingredient list to be beneficial.

Whole grains provide a good source of fiber and B vitamins. Fiber is the carbohydrate that is non digestible. Fiber keeps our digestive system regular and also can help reduce blood cholesterol. A good goal for women is to consume 25 grams each day while men need 38 grams for their daily intake. For specific recommendations visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ . Other sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans.

So now back to breakfast, the first meal of the day. Making your own cereal can be healthy and nutritious. Start with a whole gran like oats. This is the base for homemade granola and also can be cooked as a hot cereal. Try this homemade granola recipe to have available for a whole grain option for breakfast.

Homemade Granola

2 cups of old fashioned whole grain oats

½ cup sliced almonds or other nut like pecans or walnuts

½ cup shredded coconut

2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup or honey

1 Tablespoon of melted coconut oil to coat the oats (can be melted in the microwave for 10 seconds)

¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Optional: ½ cup sunflower seeds, ½ cup of dried fruit


Preheat the oven to 300º F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and toss to coat.

Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Allow to completely cool before storing.

Granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

To use as a morning cereal, scoop ¾ cup and cover with Milk. For added flavor and fiber, add fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries. May also be eaten as a snack or a topping for yogurt sundaes.

For information about upcoming UF IFAS Extension programs in Okaloosa County, visit our website at:

http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/okaloosa email: pha@ufl.edu or call us at 850-689-5850

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