Hop on the Grain Train
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.

  • Children ages 2-6, women, and some older adults: 6 servings

  • Older children, teen girls, active women, and most men: 9 servings

  • Teen boys and active men: 11 servings

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:

  • Whole grain toast or bagel with peanut butter

  • Eggs-fried, scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled with whole grain toast

  • Oatmeal with chopped nuts and raisins, a sliced banana, or strawberries

It's a Grain Thing

Here are some essential tips and guidelines* when it comes to adding whole grains to your diet.

  • Build a healthy base by making a variety of grain products a foundation of your diet.

  • Eat 6 or more servings of grain products daily (whole grain and refined breads, cereals, pasta, and rice).

  • Eat foods made from a variety of whole grains - such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole grain corn-every day.

  • Combine whole grains with other tasty, nutritious foods in mixed dishes.
* The U.S. Department Agriculture and Health and Human Services and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.