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Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult
by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

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We’ve all heard this before, aim to make at least half of your grains whole. That means most of us want to strive for at least 3 servings of whole grain foods per day. The reason for this is because there are a lot of positive health benefits that are related to increasing whole grain intake, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and help with weight loss. Whole grains are a very hot topic for marketers these days. Everywhere you look on grocery store shelves products are boasting how much whole grain they contain. It’s great that there’s a push to get more whole grains into processed foods, but what does it actually mean?

For starters, there are the real whole grains that are not packaged as crackers or cereals. These include brown or wild rice, 100% whole wheat breads, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and other grains such as barley, quinoa and 100% whole wheat pastas. Then there are those foods that have had whole grains added in to increase their nutritional value. These include things like cereals, crackers and baked goods. These types of foods boast how many grams of whole grain they contain. But what does that really mean? Here are the things you need to know about grams of whole grain. A good source of whole grain must contain at least 8 grams per serving, while an excellent source of whole grain must contain at least 16 grams per serving. 16 grams of whole grain also counts as a serving of whole grain. In a given day, you want to try and get at least 48 grams (3 servings) of whole grain in your diet.

Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the whole out of your whole grain:

- Not all wheat breads are created equal. Make sure to look at the ingredient list before you put that bread in your basket. If the first ingredient is anything other that 100% whole wheat flour (or something similar), then you’re getting an enriched wheat product.
- Try substituting half regular for half whole grains. For example, half white flour and half whole wheat flour in a baked good, half regular pasta and half whole wheat pasta or half white rice and half brown rice mixed together. This is a way to introduce whole grains into your meals.

So, what counts as a serving?
o 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
o 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
o 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
o 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
o 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

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