Hop on the Grain Train

Research shows that teens and young adults are missing whole grains in their diets. Why it's unhealthy, and what to do about it.

Jim Williams

HealthKey.com contributor

March 22, 2010


Whole grains: they may not make you grow taller, create a fashion statement, or keep the IRS from knocking on your door. However, when it comes to nutrition, they are the foundation, the building blocks, of a healthy diet. But recently it seems many young people don't want to want to play with blocks anymore.

A study from the University of Minnesota Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), which appeared in the February issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," found that teens and young adults are consuming less than one serving of whole grains daily. The study notes that a minimum of three daily servings are recommended for the prevention of excess weight gain, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.

What is a Whole Grain?

Basically, it's the seed of various types of plants such as wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, and rice. According to the Whole Grain Council (wholegraincouncil.org) whole grains or foods made from them, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. The grain can be cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked, which still delivers the same balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.

Recommended Servings

Dietary Guidelines for Americans* recommends the following servings for grains (preferably whole grains), bread, cereal, rice and pasta.

Getting kids and teens to eat more whole grains is a challenge. With school and activities, they're a moving target. Certainly, start with breakfastÂ…yes, the most important meal of the day. Here are some quick, easy breakfast solutions from betterhealthusa.com:
It's a Grain Thing

Here are some essential tips and guidelines* when it comes to adding whole grains to your diet. * The U.S. Department Agriculture and Health and Human Services and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.