September is Whole Grains Month

Monday, September 14, 2020

Did you know that people who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases? Grains provide many nutrients vital for health, and it is recommended that at least half of all the grains eaten be whole grains.

September is Whole Grains Month, and on average most Americans eat enough grains – but few are whole grains. Check out the following tips to help increase your intake of whole grains.

Make more of your grains whole:

What are grains? Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Examples include bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas and grits. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel – the bran, germ and endosperm. Examples include whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.

How much is needed? Women need at least three ounces of whole grains per day, where men need anywhere between three and four ounces. These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs.

What counts as an ounce? In general, one slice of bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or a half-cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta or cooked cereal can be considered as a one-ounce equivalent from the Grains Group. Some examples include: bagel: one mini bagel, half a regular-size bagel, one-fourth of a large bagel; cooked grains (e.g., bulgur, couscous, quinoa): a half-cup cooked; crackers: five whole wheat crackers, two rye crisp breads, seven square or round crackers; oatmeal: a half-cup cooked, one packet instant, one ounce (one-third cup) dry (regular or quick); or popcorn: three cups, popped.

What are the health benefits? Consuming whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, help with weight management and reduce constipation. Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium).

Whole grains at meals. Use whole-grain breads for sandwiches, try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes or put whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese. Try rolled oats or a crushed, unsweetened whole-grain cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish or veal cutlets. Try an unsweetened, whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal as croutons in a salad.

Whole grains as snacks. Snack on ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereals. Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal to baked treats. Try 100-percent whole-grain snack crackers. Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack if made with little or no added salt and butter.

What to look for on food labels. Choose foods that list a whole grain (such as brown rice, oatmeal, bulgur, wild rice, whole-grain corn, whole oats, whole rye or whole wheat) first on the ingredient list. Multi-grain, stone-ground, seven-grain or bran are usually not whole-grain foods. Food color is not always a good indicator of whole grain. Bread can be brown due to molasses or other added ingredients. Also, choose products with a higher percent daily value (%DV) for fiber.

To broaden your food horizons with whole grains, try substituting a whole grain product for a refined one and using the Nutrition Facts Label to help you choose more whole grains at the grocery store. For more food, nutrition and health information, go to

Visit or contact the local Purdue Extension office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 22, 29 – Steps in September – Big Walnut Sports Park – 9 a.m.

Sept. 19 – Life Cycles Bicycle Donation Day – Greencastle Farmers Market – 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

Sept. 28 – ServSafe food managers exam – limited space – 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; register at:

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