By Julie Upton, RD
With more whole-grain offerings than ever before, why does new research show that adults get less than one serving of whole grains?
The researchers reported their findings in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004, the researchers calculated whole-grain intake among some 13,000 adults. The study participants were divided into four whole-grain consumption groups: Those who consumed up to 0.6 ounces per day, 0.6 to 1.5 ounces per day, 1.5 to 3.0 ounces per day, and more than 3 ounces per day.
The study found that American adults, on average, eat about 3/4 of an ounce of whole grains, well below the recommended 3 ounces. The majority of our grain intake instead comes from refined grains—things like white bread and white rice.
But missing out on whole grains can increase a person’s risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Whole grains are healthier because they are naturally nutritious. They pack in B-vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Refined grains like crackers, cakes, and cookies lack some of these nutrients and are often loaded with saturated fat and added sugars.
Don’t rely on the claim “Made With Whole Grains” as you try to get more complete grains into your diet. Those foods probably contain only a skimpy amount. Scour food packages and ingredient lists. If a whole grain is not one of the first three ingredients, look for a better option.
To get you started on your shopping for whole-grain foods, here are a few of my faves:
1. Oatmeal (Quaker, McCann’s, and Nature’s Path make great varieties.)
2. Cold whole-grain cereals (Try General Mills, Nature’s Path, or Barbara’s.)
3. Whole-grain bread
4. Brown rice
5. Quinoa (It is a great side and can also be used in many salads.)