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Whole Grains Help Complete MyPlate

July 19, 2011

Emily Carlos, San Antonio Food Bank’s Culinary Training Manager, shares tips about her favorite ingredient this month – whole grains!

Last month the USDA created new guidelines for a balanced diet. It is based on the perfect plate (MyPlate)- divided into 4 quadrants: fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains, with a small serving of dairy.

These grains that make up ¼ of our plate should be whole grains. Whole grains still contain the entire grain kernel – the bran, germ and endosperm. In contrast, a refined grain has had the outer layers of the bran and germ removed, which also removes the important fiber, iron and B vitamins. In essence, foods made from refined grains are empty calories. And it’s important to make sure we eat plenty of fiber because it reduces our risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

So how do you know if something is a whole grain? You have to read the label! Look for words like “100% whole grain” or “whole oats.” Products listed as “multi-grain”, “stone ground” or “made with whole grain” are often misleading you to believe an item is whole grain when it isn’t. Here’s a good cheat sheet. Choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list:

  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rolled oats
  • Whole-grain barley
  • Whole-grain corn
  • Whole-grain sorghum
  • Whole-grain triticale
  • Whole oats
  • Whole rye
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild rice

Try to incorporate more whole grains into your diet. You’ll be happy you did.

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