What are whole grains, and why do kids need them?

Whole grains are defined as “made with or containing whole unprocessed grain”. Whole grains are made with all three portions of the grain; 1) bran, 2) germ, and 3) endosperm.

All three portions are important because they all provide something a little different. The endosperm includes the starchy carbohydrate and protein.  The bran has B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.  The germ also has B vitamins, some protein, and healthy fats.

Some examples of whole grains are:

Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, brown/wild rice, cornmeal, farro, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt, wheat, wheatberries, and whole wheat flour.

How will we know what to look for?

The label should say 100% whole grain or the first ingredient listed should be a whole grain ingredient.

Why do we need them?

Research has shown that whole grains may reduce your risk for stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer and inflammation. Whole grains also help with weight management and constipation, since it’s a fiber rich source.

AND….it’s really important for school-aged kids to stay focused during the school day. A whole grain rich breakfast can help keep them satisfied longer.

How much is recommended?

Here are the recommendations based on age and gender, according to the USDA guidelines on MyPlate.gov:

DAILY GRAIN TABLE
DAILY RECOMMENDATION* DAILY MINIMUM AMOUNT OF WHOLE GRAINS
Children 2-3 years old
4-8 years old
3 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
1 ½ ounce equivalents
2 ½ ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
5 ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
Boys 9-13 years old
14-18 years old
6 ounce equivalents
8 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
4 ounce equivalents
Women 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51+ years old
6 ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
5 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old
31-50 years old
51+ years old
8 ounce equivalents
7 ounce equivalents
6 ounce equivalents
4 ounce equivalents
3 ½ ounce equivalents
3 ounce equivalents

*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.

References:

“All about the Grains Group.” Choose MyPlate, 3 Nov. 2017, www.choosemyplate.gov/grains.

“The Whole Grains Council.” The Whole Grains Council, wholegrainscouncil.org/.

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