10992 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Eating Whole Grains

    Here's Why Grains Are Good:

    IMAGE Grain products, such as bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, and tortillas, are generally low in fat and provide fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and some phytochemicals. Most of the foods we eat are refined grains (eg, white bread, white rice, pasta, pretzels). Refined grains do not contain as many nutrients as whole grains.
    A whole grain is the entire edible portion of a grain. A whole grain includes three parts, each with a valuable store of nutrients:
    • Bran—contains large amounts of B vitamins, minerals, and fiber
    • Endosperm—houses most of the protein and carbohydrate and small amounts of vitamins and minerals
    • Germ—contains B vitamins, minerals, and some protein
    White flour, which is the base of many of our foods, is made by refining whole grains. During the refining process, most or all of the bran and germ are removed. White flour that has been enriched has certain nutrients added to it: iron and some B vitamins (including folate). However, many other nutrients are lost, these include:
    Whole grains are a healthier choice because the ingredients they contain may help to lower the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Soluble fiber (found in oats and barley) can lower cholesterol levels.

    Here's How to Get Your Grains:

    It is easy to get plenty of serving of grains everyday. The amount of servings an adult needs varies depending on age and activity level. The requirements range from about 5-8 servings. One serving is equal to:
    • 1 cup flaked cereal
    • ½ cup of cooked oatmeal, grits, or cream-of-wheat cereal
    • ¼ cup nugget or bud-type cereal
    • 3 tablespoons wheat germ
    • 1 pancake or waffle, 4 inch diameter
    • ½ English muffin, hamburger roll, pita, or bagel (frozen kind; those from bagel shops can be up to 4 servings)
    • 1 slice of bread or dinner roll
    • 1 tortilla, 6 inch diameter
    • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or barley
    • ½ cup quinoa, bulgur, millet, or other whole grain
    • ½ cup pretzels
    • 3-4 small crackers

    Finding the Whole Grain

    At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. The trickiest part about eating whole grains is figuring out which grains truly are whole. To do this, check the ingredient label. The product is a whole grain if the first ingredient is whole wheat or oatmeal. Do not be fooled by brown breads, some are dyed to be that color. Also, a food label that reads "wheat bagel," "stoned wheat," or "seven grain" is not necessarily "whole grain."
    The following are whole grains:
    • Oatmeal
    • Whole wheat
    • Quinoa
    • Brown rice
    • Popcorn
    • Some cold breakfast cereals (eg, Cheerios, Granola or muesli, Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, Total, Wheat germ, Wheaties)
    • Some hot breakfast cereals (eg, Oat Bran, oatmeal, Roman Meal, Wheatena)
    • Some crackers (eg, Triscuits, Ak-Mak)


    American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/

    US Department of Agriculture http://www.usda.gov/


    Canada's Food Guide http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

    Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/


    Dash diet. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://ebscohost/dynamed. Updated August 26, 2011. Accessed June 2, 2012.

    Food groups: How many grain foods are needed daily? USDA's MyPlate.gov website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains%5Famount%5Ftable.html. Accessed Updated June 4, 2011. June 12, 2012.

    Food groups: What counts as an ounce equivalent of grains? USDA's MyPlate.gov website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains%5Fcounts%5Ftable.html. Accessed Updated June 4, 2011. June 12, 2012.

    Whole grains. United States Department of Agriculture website. Available at: http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/resource-library/whole-grains. Accessed June 2, 2012.

    Whole grains and fiber. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber%5FUCM%5F303249%5FArticle.jsp. Updated January 24, 2011. Accessed June 2, 2012.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.