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Wellness Wisdom

I’m Peg Christenson, Registered Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, at Hutchinson Health with Wellness Wisdom. September is National Whole Grains Month. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we make at least ½ of our grains whole grains. But what is a whole grain? Any why does it matter?

Whole grains are the entire seed of a plant and are made up of 3 edible parts; the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Whole grains are either present in their whole form or ground into a flour while retaining all parts of the seed. So, whole grains are either single foods such as oatmeal, barley, brown and wild rice, popcorn, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat flour in bread.

Whole grain products are our body’s main source of energy and important sources of fiber, iron, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate), protein, and minerals (selenium, potassium, and magnesium). Refined grains are grains that have had the bran and the germ removed, reducing protein content by 25% and other key nutrients. Grains are naturally high in fiber, helping you feel full and satisfied — which makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Whole grains are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems. (

The Whole Grain Stamps make it easy for busy shoppers to identify products. The 100% Stamp is for products where all of the grain is whole grain. The 50% Stamp is for products where at least 50% of the grain is whole. The basic stamp is for products that contain a significant amount of whole grain but primarily contain refined grains. Each stamp also shows how many grams of whole grain are in a serving of the product. Some manufacturers still need to update product packaging with the new stamps.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we make half or more of our grains whole grains. For everyone age 9 and up, this means eating 3 to 5 servings or more of whole grains every day.

1 Serving of whole grains =

         ½ cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain

         ½ cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta

         ½ cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal

         1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain

         1 slice 100% whole grain bread

         1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin

         1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal


Make easy substitutions

         Switch half the white flour to whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes. Or be bold and add up to 20% of another whole grain flour such as sorghum.

         Replace one third of the flour in a recipe with quick oats or old-fashioned oats.

         Add half a cup of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to bread stuffing.

         Add half a cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to your favorite canned or home-made soup.

         Use whole corn meal for corn cakes, corn breads and corn muffins.

         Add three-quarters of a cup of uncooked oats for each pound of ground beef or turkey when you make meatballs, burgers or meatloaf.

         Stir a handful of rolled oats in your yogurt, for quick crunch with no cooking necessary.

Try New Foods

         Make risottos, pilafs and other rice-like dishes with whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, quinoa or sorghum.

         Enjoy whole grain salads like tabbouleh.

         Buy whole grain pasta, or a blend that’s part whole-grain, part white.

         Try whole grain breads. Kids especially like whole grain pita bread.

         Look for cereals made with grains like Kamut®, kasha (buckwheat) or spelt.


Keep these whole grain basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long!

Source used: and

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