What are the benefits of grains in a healthy eating pattern?
Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. The USDA recommends that half the day’s grain choices be whole grain.
Whole grains have not been milled and contain the entire grain kernel; milling gives a finer texture but removes the fiber, iron and B vitamins. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.
Suggestions for incorporating whole grains into a healthy eating pattern include adding a whole-wheat bagel or toast to breakfast, eating a sandwich on whole-grain bread at lunch or including whole-wheat pasta with dinner.
How Many Servings of Grains Are Recommended?
|Age||No. of servings*|
|Children||2–3 years||3 ounce equivalents|
|Children||4–8 years||5 ounce equivalents|
|Girls||9–18 years||5–6 ounce equivalents|
|Boys||9–18 years||6–8 ounce equivalents|
|Women||19–50 years||6 ounce equivalents|
|Women||51+ years||5 ounce equivalents|
|Men||19–30 years||8 ounce equivalents|
|Men||31–50 years||7 ounce equivalents|
|Men||51+ years||6 ounce equivalents|
*An ounce equivalent is equal to one regular slice of bread, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, ½ cup cooked pasta, 3 cups popped popcorn, ½ cup cooked rice or one small flour tortilla.
Whole grains have a positive impact on both heart and digestive health. Some of the nutrients in whole grains include:
Find out more about the relationship of a healthy eating pattern and activity to overall health by visiting the Healthy Eating page.