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School's In Session: Do Your Grain Food Choices Make the Grade?

Children in schools will be having more whole-grain options available in school lunch programs nationwide. Whole grains are healthier options for all of us.
School's In Session: Do Your Grain Food Choices Make the Grade?

Photo used under license from www.istockphoto.com.

Making at least half of our grain food choices whole grains adds up to better nutrition. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthful diet can reduce their risk of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer.

Pop Quiz:

-----True or False: Foods labeled “multigrain,” “stone ground,” “100 percent wheat” or “seven-grain” may not contain any whole grain.

-----True or False: Brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are examples of whole-grain foods.

-----True or False: Grain food that is brown is not necessarily a whole-grain food.

-----True or False: You can increase the fiber content in recipes by substituting brown rice or whole-wheat macaroni for white rice and regular pasta.

How did you do? All these answers are true. You can’t tell if food is whole grain by its color. Read the ingredient list and choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first on the list. Some whole-grain food packages also carry health claims.

Try These Tips to Make Half Your Grains Whole:

  • Enjoy popcorn (always a whole grain!) as a snack, but make it with little or no added salt or butter.
  • Try 100 percent whole-wheat crackers as a snack.
  • Have whole-wheat buns, tortillas or bread as the base of your sandwiches.
  • Get the most nutrition for your money. Compare the fiber, sugar and other nutrition information on cereal boxes.
  • Be a good role model for children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals or snacks.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise September 2012 newsletter (PDF).

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