Make half the day’s starch whole-grain
AS PEOPLE dig out from under the rise and fall of the low-carb diet craze, many are starting to remember those health messages about whole grains. People whose diets include a reasonable amount of whole grains are less likely to develop coronary heart disease and various types of cancer, according to a variety of sources.
Consequently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of the grain foods in our diet come from whole grains.
Question: What qualifies as a "whole grain" food?
Answer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that it is just what it sounds like. Whole-grain foods should include the outer bran and internal germ along with the main starchy component. Together, the bran and germ provide dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and other potential benefits.
Different types of grains vary somewhat in the nutrients they provide, so having a variety in the diet is best.
Q: What are some examples of whole grains?
A: There are many. The FDA lists the following examples: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn (including popcorn), millet, quinoa, rice, rye, oats, sorghum, teff, triticale, wheat and wild rice.
Q: What foods don't qualify as whole grains?
A: Any refined grains -- like white rice, pearled barley and foods made from white flour, like pasta -- do not qualify. Foods such as soybeans, chickpeas and other beans are not grains. Seeds like sunflower are not grains, and starchy roots like arrowroot and taro don't meet the definition, either.
Q: What quantity of whole-grain foods should be consumed daily?
A: The Dietary Guidelines and USDA's MyPyramid recommend that at least half of the day's grain servings be whole grains. That is equivalent to at least three "ounce equivalents" of whole grain per day: a one-ounce slice of bread, a half-cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta or cooked cereal, or a cup of most lightweight breakfast cereals like corn flakes.
Q: Can you eat too much whole-grain foods?
A: Yes. High intake of whole grains can significantly reduce absorption of important trace minerals like iron and zinc. Also, water needs increase with excessive fiber consumption, and inadequate water intake can impair normal intestinal function. For good nutrition, all foods must be kept in balance.
, Ph.D., C.N.S. and Joannie Dobbs
, Ph.D., C.N.S. are
nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH-Manoa. Dr. Dobbs also works with the University Health Services and prepares the nutritional analyses marked with an asterisk in this section. See also: Health Events