NDSU Extension - Stark & Billings County

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Whole Grains: Agriculture to Health

Whole grains contain all elements of the kernel — bran, germ and endosperm.

The bran and germ contain a variety of health-enhancing components — dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, trace minerals and small amounts of unsaturated fat.

Refined grains primarily contain the ground endosperm of the kernel, with both the bran and germ removed. Loss of the bran and germ reduces the fiber content (especially insoluble fiber) and a number of health-enhancing components. Refined grains are “enriched” with a limited number of nutrients — vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and minerals (iron) — added back. Refined grains also are “fortified” with folic acid at more than twice the level found in whole grains.

The Whole Grains Council is an industry-based group committed to increasing the consumption of whole grains. This group has developed the Whole Grains Stamp Program to help consumers identify whole-grain products and the amount of whole grains per serving.

Whole Grain Stamps indicate the following:

• Number of grams of whole grains per serving

• Daily goal of 48 or more grams of whole grains

• 100% stamp indicates a product having only whole grains with 16 or more grams per serving

For adults, the Dietary Guidelines suggest about “6 ounce equivalents” of total grains per day. Variation in calorie needs will change this suggested amount. Three or more one ounce equivalents of whole grains are recommended each day. Including whole grains in the diet on a regular basis is associated with lower body weights and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

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