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My Plate Message:  Make half your grains whole

The grain group includes foods like cereals, breads, crackers, pasta, and rice. This group provides a very economical source of carbohydrates, B vitamins, and fiber; all of which are very important for our health.  Carbohydrates supply fuel for the body. In fact, our brains and central nervous systems prefer carbohydrates for energy rather than protein and fat. The B vitamins are important for metabolism. Metabolism is how the body breaks down the food we eat to get the nutrients we need.   Fiber helps us feel full for longer and helps keep our digestive tract healthy and moving. 

At least half of all grains eaten daily should be whole grains.  See below for more information of whole versus refined grains.

How many ounces of grains should you try to eat each day?



Recommended Amount




1 ½ ounce equivalents

2 ½ ounce equivalents




3 ounce equivalents

3 ounce equivalents




3 ounce equivalents

4 ounce equivalents





3 ounce equivalents

3 ounce equivalents

3 ounce equivalents





4 ounce equivalents

3 ½ ounce equivalents

3 ounce equivalents


What counts as an ounce equivalent of grains?




1 “mini” bagel

Sandwich Breads

1 regular slice

English Muffin

½ muffin


1 small (2 ½” diameter)


1/3 cup dry or ½ cup cooked



3 cups popped

Ready to Eat Cereal

1 cup flakes or rounds OR 1 ¼ cup puffed (puffed rice, puffed oats)


½ cup cooked


½ cup cooked

**For more food items visit



Health Benefits of eating grains:

Most of the health benefits associated with eating grains comes from eating whole grains, not refined grains.  Whole grains are an important source of B vitamins that are very important for the conversion of food into energy. They also contain a lot of fiber. The body does not absorb fiber so it travels through the digestive tract, making elimination easier. This helps to keep your digestive tract working properly and may help to prevent colon cancer. It also helps to carry cholesterol out of the body.

Whole grains are also sources of important minerals such as magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation. It is also important for a healthy immune system. With all of these health benefits at your finger tips, start making at least half your grains whole today!

What’s the difference between whole grains and refined grains?

A whole grain has not gone through any milling processes and still contains the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Since the whole grain kernel contains all of its original components it is higher in many nutrients than grains that have been through the milling process.

A refined grain has gone through a milling process that strips the outer layer (bran) and innermost layer (germ) from the grain kernel. This creates a soft, white flour that many people love because of its taste and texture, but the process also removes many important nutrients and fiber from the flour

Enriched grains are refined grains that have some of the nutrients that were lost in the milling process added back in. However, it is important to understand that enriched grains are still not as nutritious as whole grains are. No matter how smart we are, we can never replace all the micro-nutrients we take out of the whole, complete plant when we refine it.

Try these Food $ense recipes to increase your intake of whole grains:

Crispy Granola

Oatmeal Nut Pancakes

Basic Whole Wheat Bread

Black Beans and Rice

Barley Mushroom Pilaf

Stuffed Bulgur Vegetarian Peppers

Wheat Berry Salad

Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Awesome Oatmeal Cookies


Resource Box

What Counts as a Serving of Grain

Great Whole Grains

Fruit Group

Vegetable Group

Protein Group

Dairy Group