Joseph F. Sullivan Center


What exactly are grains?grains

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal or barley is a grain. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, tortillas and grits are all examples of grains. There are two types of grains--whole grains and refined grains. Guess which ones are good for you? Right--whole grains. Make sure at least half of all your grains are whole grains. Examples of whole grains include: 

  • brown rice
  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • rolled oats
  • whole grain cornmeal
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat bread
  • whole weat pasta
  • whole what tortillas
  • wild rice

Refined grains (that you should avoid) include:

  • cornbread
  • corn tortillas
  • flour tortillas
  • grits
  • noodles
  • pitas
  • pretzels
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • spaghetti 
  • macaroni

It is important to eat whole grains because they are an important source of fiber. Refined grains go through processing that removes most of the nutrients, then they're added back at the end of the process. Fiber usually isn't added back, so you aren't getting much fiber from those products. Eating whole grains provides health benefits like:

  • reducing the risk of heart disease
  • helps with weight management
  • reducing constipation and diverticulosis 
  • reducing cholesterol 
  • enriched with B vitamins: essential for healthy nervous system, play a key role in metabolism, contain folic acid 

Tips for getting enough whole grains in your diet:

  • Substitute any refined product for a whole wheat product--including bread for sandwiches, pasta noodles, and rice
  • Experiment with substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancakes, waffles, muffins, or other flour based recipes
  • Snack on whole grain cereals
  • Add whole grain oatment to cookies or other baked treats
  • Popcorn is a healthy snack with little or no butter

riceSo, how much grains should you get? pasta

The USDA recommends that adults eat between 6 and 8 ounces of whole grains. How do you know what an ounce is? In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready to eat cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal can be considered as 1 ounce. For a more in depth list of what constitutes 1 ounce, check out this chart from the USDA. 


Don't forget--while eating whole grains is great for your health, a varied diet is the best thing! So make sure you're following the MyPlate guidelines and getting the other nutrients you need from fruits, veggies, protein and dairy! Click any of the links for more information.

Information provided by the USDA