Shopping for Whole Grains: A Guide

 

GraaaaaaaaainsWhole grains have been all over the news lately. They're now required in many school lunch programs, and people are encouraged to incorporate whole grains into daily meals and snacks.

By now, your clients have probably heard all about the health benefits of whole grains. Most of them may even have great reasons for incorporating more whole grains into their diets (staving off chronic disease, improving cholesterol, etc). But sometimes, knowledge about why a food is healthful isn't quite enough. How to start eating more of these whole grain foods is also key.

After all, if people don't know how to find and use whole grains, then their understanding of grains' health benefits may be a bit less useful.

That's where I come in. I've created a handy shopping guide, just for your clients. It talks about how to find real whole grain foods in any grocery store. There are budget-friendly options, and quick tips for speedy shopping. What more could a health-conscious shopper want?

Enjoy!

Judy Doherty, PC II
Chef, Publisher, and Founder
Food and Health Communications, Inc.

PS If you like the handout preview below, keep scrolling! You can download a PDF of it at the bottom of this post.

How do I know if a product is a whole grain?

Use this easy checklist to determine if a product is really made from whole grains:

  • Package claim: Does the package say 100% Whole Wheat Bread? Or 100% Whole Grain? Don’t be misled by claims that hint at being wholesome but aren't actually backed up. 100% Stone Ground, Multigrain, Whole Wheat, Honey Wheat, Wheat Bread, etc are not necessarily 100% whole grain foods. Be sure to check the package closely.
  • Fiber content: The fiber content also offers insight into whether a food is truly made with whole grains. The amount of fiber per serving of a whole-grain food should be at least two grams.
  • Ingredients: Check the ingredient lists! In whole grain foods, the first item should always be a whole grain. Think whole wheat, whole rye, whole corn, oats, or brown rice.

Foods that contain at least 51 percent whole grains may make a claim about that food's role in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. The specific claim may state, "Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers."

MOARGRAINSWhat are some common whole-grain foods that I can find in my grocery store?

  • Amaranth
  • Barley (hulled)
  • Brown rice (there are many varieties -- choose from long grain, short grain, and instant)
  • Buckwheat groats (a.k.a. kasha)
  • Bulgur
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-wheat bread, cereal, or crackers
  • Whole-wheat pasta

I want to eat more whole grains. How do I get started?

Start with breakfast. Choose whole grain cereals with no added sugar. A few examples include: oatmeal, Shredded Wheat®, Cheerios®, Total®, or Wheaties®.

Next, go whole grain for lunch. Be sure you use a 100 percent whole-wheat bread or pita pocket. Fill it with lots of fresh veggies and a lean cut of turkey or low-fat tuna salad. Consider having a low-fat whole-grain cracker such as Wasa brand. You can serve that with a low-fat tuna salad on lettuce or alongside vegetable soup.

Whole grains are easy to incorporate into dinners too. Get some brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Top it with lots of veggies and a thick sauce. 

Exotic whole grains can be fun to experiment with! Check out the grain or health food section of your grocery store. Choose amaranth, bulgur, millet, teff, or quinoa. Follow recipes on the packages or do a search on the Internet for more ideas.

Whole Grain Starter List

Are you new to the idea of whole grains? If so, here is a simple list to help you get started:

  • Whole grain cereals: Oatmeal, Shredded Wheat®, Cheerios®, Total®, Wheaties® or other no-sugar-added, whole-grain cereal
  • Brown rice: Buy long grain brown rice or, for a time saver, consider instant brown rice
  • Popcorn: Use air popped
  • Whole-wheat pasta: Small shapes cook best
  • Whole-grain crackers: e.g. WASA brand
  • 100 percent whole-wheat bread or pita pockets

Like what you see? Get the handout for free!

Whole Grains for Everyone

But wait, there's more! Take a look at these great resources...

Whole Grain Bulletin Board Kit
Whole Grain PowerPoint
Grains are for Brains Poster
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