Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Getting Your Whole Grains

Obtaining the recommended 3- 6 servings a day of whole grains in order to improve health and prevent disease, does not have to be hard.  Using the back of pack food label to determine the portion of that recommended amount provided by a serving of that food is nearly impossible.  Currently, the FDA does not require the back of pack nutrition label to list the amount of whole grains per serving.  Apparently, the Whole Grain Council is not as powerful as the Dairy Council.

Most of our products contain a blend of whole and refined grains, and that presents a problem.  If the product is not 100% Whole Grain (note : containing 100% whole wheat or other grain is not the same as the entire product being 100% whole grain), you have some proportional math to do - and you don't have the information you need to do it.

For example, I make my own cakes with 100% whole grain flours (soy and wheat).  I know the weight of the flours, 232 grams total and that each cake makes eight servings.  This means that my dessert contains nearly 2 servings of whole grains (29g).  If I also used white flour in my batter, I would need to know what percent of that serving size was made up of the refined flour and thus NOT contributing to my whole grain allotment.  (aaack)

Lucky for us, nutritionists have figured out some foods that provide a complete serving of whole grains. Additionally, if you  see a product with the Whole Grain Stamp you can know that 100% means it meets or exceeds a serving, Excellent means it meets the 16 gram serving size and Good means it contains half a serving.  

Foods that contain one full (16g) serving are:
3 cups of popped popcorn (no BUTTER)
1 piece of 100% whole grain bread
1/2 c cooked brown rice
1/2 c cooked whole wheat pasta 
1 cup cold whole grain cereal
1/2 cooked whole grain (oatmeal) cereal

There are things that fool us or can be confusing such as,
all bran does not mean 100% whole grain, but it is a great source of fiber.  As I said above, having whole grains as ingredients can mean very little if the majority of the product is refined.

I want to talk more about the differences in benefits from fiber and whole grains - in another post.
 I leave you with this link from the CSPI which clarifies the health benefits of whole grains and the research to support them.  It ends with things to look out for when you are shopping.

Try for at least 48gs of whole grains a day!  Need help?  My cake recipe is available on You Tube - as are my muffin recipes.

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