The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least three servings of whole grains each day. While many Americans understand the importance of whole grains in the diet, the current average intake for Americans over the age of one is only 0.6 servings. That’s right most of us are consuming less than one serving per day.
Why are so many of us falling short? First of all, many Americans have a difficult time identifying whole grains on a food label. Others may not understand the benefits of consuming at least three servings per day or understand how to make simply swaps to increase their intake.
Understanding how to identify whole grains is vital selecting the right products. There are a few things to look for:
- Look for the words “whole grain” on the package 9often on the front)
- Check the ingredient list for the whole grain (not enriched)
- Check the package for the whole grain “stamp”
- Check the packaging to list the “grams of whole grains”
Current recommendations include consuming at least half of your grains from whole grains. For most of us, this means consuming at least 3 servings (48 grams) per day. This can easily be achieved by making simple swaps to your current choices. Here are some quick tips for increasing whole grains in your diet.
- Substitute brown rice, wild rice or kasha for white rice
- Swap your current breakfast cereal for oatmeal or other whole grain ready to eat cereal
- Modify your pancake, muffin or biscuit recipe to include ½ whole wheat flour and ½ white flour
- Purchase whole wheat tortillas for basic flour tortillas
- Ask for whole grain bread when dining out. Also opt for brown rice in place of white
- Experiment with new whole grains such as quinoa, barley or bulgur
- Snack on popcorn, a natural whole grain rather than chips or pretzels
It is becoming clear that a diet rich in whole grains is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The effect of fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients make whole grains a sensible choice for heart health.