All About Grains

Grains are any food made from the seeds of certain plants, like wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or cereal. Foods made from grains include breads, pasta, grits, tortillas, oatmeal and popcorn. In fact, grains are the world’s single biggest source of food energy – we eat more grains than any other food group.  For example, foods like bread, pasta, grits, tortillas, oatmeal, rice, and popcorn are all examples of grains.  

Whole Grains Vs. Refined Grains.

You may have heard about “whole grains” and their health benefits. Grain seeds have three main parts: the bran (a hard outer layer), the germ (the nutrient-rich core), and the endosperm (the biggest part of the grain). Whole grain foods include all three parts of the seed, providing fiber, nutrients, proteins, and carbohydrates. Examples of whole wheat foods include oatmeal and brown rice.

Refined grains are only the high-carb endosperm, with the bran and germ removed. This also removes nutrients like fiber, iron, and vitamins. Common foods made out of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice.

How much should I eat?

Because of the nutritional value of whole grains, try to make it 50% of your daily grain intake. But how much should you eat in a day? Depending on your age and level of activity, you should eat about 6 to 7 ounces of grains a day – a little less than a cup. An ounce is a slice of bread, or half a cup of cooked rice or pasta. For example, 1 bagel is 4 ounces.

Check out this chart here to see how much you should eat in a day.

Types of Grains to Eat

What kind of grains do you use in your diet? Maybe you eat a lot of wheat, corn, and rice. Perhaps you eat other, more unusual grains like barley or quinoa. There are many types of grains eaten in different traditional diets, some more nutrient rich than wheat or corn. Take a look at this chart below and tell us what grains you like to eat!

Information and data provided by MyPlate.

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