Food Facts: Grains

Grains are one of the sections of MyPlate, the newest food group guide. We all know that grains are an essential part of our diet, but do we know how many grains we should consume, what kinds, and why they are so important?

MyPlate recommends that slightly more than 1/4 of your plate should be filled with grains, and at least half of all  grains eaten in one day should be whole grains. Women and men need different amounts of grains, due to their physiological differences. Women aged 19-30 years old need six ounces of grains daily, while men need eight ounces. Grains help us to make up part of our needed daily carbohydrate intake, while fruits, vegetables, and dairy make up the rest; our body needs 45-65% of our daily diet to be carbohydrates. Because it is hard to know what 6 or 8 ounces of grains look like, here are some common grain sources with the number of ounces they contain:

  • 1 large bagel (is the common size of a bagel) is 4 ounces
  • 1 regular slice of bread is 1 ounce
  • 1 English muffin is 2 ounces
  • 1 microwaved bag of popcorn is 4 ounces
  • 1 large muffin is 3 ounces
  • 1 packet of oatmeal is 1 ounce
  • 1 cup of breakfast cereal is 1 ounce
  • 1 cup of pasta is 2 ounces
  • 1 large tortilla (12-inch diameter) is 4 ounces (this is the size tortilla used at West End’s Wrap World)

Grains are so important because they are the main energy source for your body. They help to give your body the fuel for activities including breathing, jogging, and other lightly intense activities.In addition, grains have many nutrients that are important to the functioning of our bodies, like iron, magnesium, dietary fiber, and B vitamins, to name a few. When focusing on grains, it is extremely important to make sure you are getting the amount of whole grains you need, as they reduce your risk of many chronic diseases. Now that you know about the importance of grains, make sure you get an adequate amount of them daily, while choosing whole instead of other types of grains.

Recently there have been some grains gaining popularity:

Quinoa Picture - Grains Blog

Quinoa: while quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is typically associated with grains, it technically isn’t one but rather a seed from a plant related to spinach. This super-food is a better source of iron than whole grains, and is full of calcium, phosphorus, Vit. A, E, and B-Vitamins as well. Its rise in popularity is in part due to its flavor, versatility, and short cooking time (only about 10-12 minutes). This food is higher in protein and lower in calories than most other whole grain side dishes. Quinoa can be incorporated into soups, salads, baked goods, or mixed with veggies and herbs for the perfect side dish. Probably the most appealing aspect to this food is that it’s a complete protein – quinoa has all 9 of the essential amino acids required by our bodies. The next time you’re out grocery shopping, put this into your cart and try it out for yourself! There are a variety of flavors to choose from, one is bound to suit your fancy!

Brown Rice Picture - Grains Blog

Brown Rice: when comparing white vs. brown rice, brown wins hands down when it comes to health benefits. White rice is actually brown rice that has been polished, milled, and ultimately stripped of about half of its minerals. It is also high in fiber and has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels. Try substituting it in sushi or choose it instead of white rice at Mexican places, or use it as the base in stir-fry!

Barley Picture - Grains Blog

Barley: barley is another grain that is very high in fiber and protein. It has selenium, which is associated with cancer prevention. Try it mixed with veggies or incorporated into soup recipes.

Millet Picture - Grains Blog

Millet, aka Sorghum: millet is gluten-free, and is also highly alkalizing, which helps especially with diets in America which tend to be more on the acidic side; it is the most alkaline of all true grains. It’s high in fiber, protein, B-Vitamins, and iron, magnesium, and potassium! Millet is a great food to use as a hot breakfast cereal, in baking recipes, and as an alternative for rice and potatoes if you’re looking for some healthy alternatives in your diet to switch up the monotony!

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References: (Continued)

United States Department of Agriculture: MyPlate

United States Department of Agriculture: MyPlate (Additional Information)

Whole Grains Council

Quinoa Picture

Brown Rice Picture

Barley Picture

Millet Picture


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