Whole grains: See if they pass the 3-step test

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Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the minimum recommended amount of whole grains.

Although Ameri-cans generally eat enough total grains, most grains consumed are “refin-ed” grains rather than “whole” grains. Unfortunately, many refined grain foods are high in solid fats and added sugars.

There is evidence that eating whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (e.g., colon) as well as help control body weight.

Whole grains are a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins and dietary fiber.

At least half of your recommended total grain intake should be whole grains, which for many is about 3 “ounce equivalents” per day.

Use these three steps to help you decide if a food is actually a whole grain:

• Front of package: Check the front of the package for key terms such as “100 percent whole grain,” “whole oats,” “made with whole wheat,” etc.

• Ingredients: Read the list of ingredients; one of the first three should contain key terms such as “100 percent whole wheat,” “whole wheat flour,” “whole oats,” “brown rice,” etc.

• Extra claims and logos: Examine other panels for extra whole grain health claims or whole grain stamps/symbols to help you know if the product is whole grain.

An ‘ounce equivalent’

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans actually say you should eat a specified number of “ounce equivalents” instead of servings. Because a slice of most breads, a cup of most cold cereals, and the amount of dry rice or pasta that cooks up to 1/2 cup all weigh about an ounce, the guidelines thought this would be more specific and understandable than simply saying “serving.” 

If the term “ounce-equivalent” leaves you cold, review the information below or use the Whole Grain Stamp found on the package to count your servings.                                    

Examples of ‘a serving’

The U.S. guidelines define a serving as any of the following amounts, for products where all the grain ingredients are whole grains:

• 1/2 cup cooked rice, bulgur, pasta or cooked cereal

• 1 ounce dry pasta, rice or other dry grain

• 1 slice bread

• 1 small muffin (weighing one ounce)

• 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes

If you’re enjoying whole grains in products that mix whole grains with enriched/refined grains, look for the “Whole Grain” stamp to be sure you’re getting at least a half serving (8g) of whole grains.

Contact the Extension office for the publication, U.S. Dietary Guidelines and Whole Grains. I have it available in English and in Spanish.

Exhibit at the 2013 fair

The 2013 Carroll County Fair is June 7-15. We hope to showcase a lot of items made and grown by our Carroll county residents this year.

So, start planning what you want to exhibit! Open class exhibits will be accepted on Friday, June 7 from 9 a.m.-noon at the exhibit trailer just inside the gate. Contact the Extension office for times to enter 4-H Youth exhibits as these have changed.  

Extension Homemakers annual meeting

The Carroll County Extension Homemakers annual meeting will be at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 21 at the Extension office. At this year’s meeting, members are encouraged to bring items that bring back memories of years gone by. A wonderful meal will be served, new officers installed and awards given. Cost is $16 with reservations by Thursday, May 16.


Dates of interest

May 13:Cover Girls Quilters, 2-4 p.m., Extension office

May 14:Carroll County Extension Council Meeting, 6 p.m., Extension office.

May 21:Extension Homemakers annual meeting, 6 p.m., Extension office.


Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu.