Americans Need to Consume More Whole Grains

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Take a minute and think about all that you typically consume. How much, if any, of your diet is comprised of whole grains? Recent research suggests that while Americans are eating more whole grains, it still isn’t enough to meet their daily needs, which is suggested to be 3 ounces per day.

Interestingly, the percent increase in American’s whole grain consumption is dependent on the definition of what makes a grain product a “whole grain.” Different health organizations provide different definitions, some very strict, and others very loose to the point that they consider nachos, burritos, and tacos as whole grain foods. But, regardless of which definition is used, all research concludes that American’s still need to up their whole grain intake.

As a general rule of thumb, registered dietician-nutritionist Amy Gorin says that whole grain is one that contains all the naturally occurring essential parts of the grain in their natural proportions. This includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Once any one of these is removed through processing, it becomes a “refined grain.”

Adding more whole grains to our diets brings a lot of health benefits with it. According to registered dietician Amy Braganini, these include:

  • Feeling full longer – Which can help curb overeating
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Decreased risk of colorectal cancer

So, how can we increase our consumption of whole grains? When at the store, pay attention to the labeling of the package. Look for the “100% Whole Grain” label, or for whole grains listed in the ingredients list. Also, opt for whole grain substitutions, such as brown rice instead of white, whole grain noodles instead of regular, or add cooked grains to soups, salads, or other meals for added texture!

For healthy recipes that use whole grains, or for more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate website!

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