Jump on the Whole Grain Train!

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Hanna Caridad

picture of whole grain with the parts labelledDo you know what the difference between a whole grain and a regular old, run-of-the-mill refined grain is? Let me give you the scoop! Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel: the bran, the germ, and the starchy endosperm. All those parts are important and healthy to take in!1,2

Refined grains only have the starchy endosperm! And while that starch in grains provides energy for the body, the missing bran and the germ of the grain provide a whole host of health-promoting nutrients! The bran, which is the outer layer of the whole grain kernel, is rich in fiber and micronutrients like B-vitamins, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium. The bran also has antioxidants and phytochemicals that can help fight off disease!1,2 The germ, or the core of the whole grain seed, is also rich in B-vitamins, but also contains vitamin E and healthy fats.2

Whole grains have more protein and fiber than refined grains found in things like white bread or white rice, which helps to maintain our lean muscle and keep our digestive systems regular!2,3

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume about 6 servings of grains daily, with half of those grains being whole grains! Examples of one serving (equivalent to about one ounce) are: one slice of whole grain bread; one half of a whole grain bagel; one small whole grain tortilla; one recommended serving size of whole grain cereal, or about half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.

A food is considered 100-percent whole-grain if the only grains it contains are whole grains. A one ounce serving size of a 100-percent whole grain food has about 16 grams of whole grains. The Whole Grain Council recommends having at least 48 grams or more of whole grains each day!2,3

According to the CDC, whole grains contributed to less than 16% of total grain intake among adults in 20164. This whole grain food labelmight be because shoppers don’t know how to recognize foods that are whole grains in the store! Here is the “whole grain certified” stamp you can look for on grain food packaging to help you recognize whole grain foods and how many whole grains are in a serving of that food!5

Lastly, here are some whole grains you may or may not know about! They are present in a whole bunch of foods!

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread, pasta, and cereals
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Farro
  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Wheat Berries

Check out this fall inspired pasta salad that can easily be made with whole grain pasta!



  1. All about the Grains Group. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/grains
  2. Mayo Clinic. Whole grains vs. regular grains: What’s the difference? Retrieved November 23, 2020, from http://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/eat/whole-grains-vs-regular-grains?xid=nl_MayoClinicDiet_20160421
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2020, August 20). The whole truth about whole grains. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/whole-grains/art-20047826
  4. Ahluwalia, N. (2019, July). Contribution of Whole Grains to Total Grains Intake Among … Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db341-h.pdf
  5. Whole Grain Council. (2020). Whole Grain Stamp. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grain-stamp

This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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