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Make Half Your Grains Whole

Catchy phrases like "Make Half Your Grains Whole" have been developed to give folks guidance when using MyPyramid. Consuming whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Whole grain is the entire edible part of any grain such as wheat, corn, rice, oats, etc. When looking at the Nutrition Facts label "whole grain" should be the first ingredient listed. Examples include: whole oats, whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain corn.

The last food guide pyramid simply had serving sizes for each food group: "Bread, cereal, rice and pasta group" = 6-11 servings a day. MyPyramid takes on a new level of education by emphasizing the health benefits gained by consuming more whole grains. Rather than 6-11 servings we are instructed in ounces. Many people do not have a clue as to what a "serving" is. A plate of spaghetti is a serving, right? There is a drastic difference between a servings size and a portion size - the latter being the plate full of spaghetti. On the other hand, what is an ounce? Most people that I encounter (including myself) do not measure their food on a kitchen scale. If they do, it is a short-lived experience.

In general, one ounce equals one slice of bread, 1 cup of cereal, and ½ cup pasta or pasta. Reading the Nutrition Facts label is another way to determine an ounce. The web-site also gives examples of serving sizes.

Reminder: When eating a sandwich, two pieces of bread equal 2 ounces. If your plan only includes 6 ounces of grains you might want to limit yourself to one sandwich at lunch and fill up on fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy. When eating out the grains add up fast. A 6-inch sub sandwich is 2-3 ounces of grains. One slice of franchise pizza is typically 2 ounces of grain.

It is important to know that color is not a good indicator of whole grains. There are many varieties of dark bread available that are not made with whole grains. Also, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, multi-grain or seven-grain are not necessarily whole grain. . The only way to know for sure is to read the ingredients on the Nutrition Facts label

How do you incorporate whole grains into your diet? Start out slowly and aim to make half of your grains whole. The following suggestions are from and

· Substitute whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice. And whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

· Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup or stews and bulgur wheat in casserole or stir-fries.

· Create a whole grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, wild rice, brown rice, broth and spices. For a special touch, stir in toasted nuts or chopped dried fruit.

· Experiment by substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes.

· Use whole-grain bread, cracker crumbs or crushed, unsweetened whole grain in meatloaf or as breading for baked chicken, fish, veal cutlets, or eggplant Parmesan.

· Start the day with a whole grain cereal.