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By choosing to complete this mail lesson, you have taken the first step in learning more about the importance of nutrition and its relationship to good health. During the mail lesson about MyPyramid you learned about healthy eating using MyPyramid as your guide. You learned which foods to eat and how much of these foods you need to eat every day. This lesson will take a closer look at one of the food groups in MyPyramid, The Grain Group.
To complete this lesson:
- Carefully read this lesson. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete.
- Answer the questions at the end of the lesson.
- When you are finished, place the questions in the prepaid envelope and place the envelope in the mail.
The Grain Group
- The grain group contains any food made from grain. Some common grains are wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, and barley.
- The following foods can be found in the grain group: bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, rice, crackers, and tortillas.
- Foods from the grain group provide our body with its number one source of energy.
- Grains are divided into 2 different groups: whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains contain the whole grain kernel, which provides fiber and other important nutrients.
Refined grains have been put through a process that removes the fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Iron and B vitamins are often added back into refined products but the fiber is not.
See the boxes below for examples of whole and refined grains.
|Whole Grains||Refined Grains|
|Whole-wheat flour||White flour|
|Whole-wheat bread||White bread|
|Whole-wheat tortillas||Flour tortillas|
|Brown and wild rice||White rice|
|Whole grain cereals (toasted O's. A whole wheat flakes)||Some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals (cornflakes)|
|Popcorn||Crackers and pretzels|
|Whole-wheat noodles||White noodles|
How much do you need to eat?
The exact amount of grains that you need to eat depends on your age, gender, and how much physical activity you get every day. A typical person should aim to eat 6 ounces of grains every day. At least 3 ounces should be whole grains, such as those listed above.
What counts as 1 ounce of grains?
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal (toasted O’s, whole wheat flakes, etc.)
- ½ cup cooked pasta or rice
- ½ cup cooked cereal (oatmeal or grits)
- 1 (6-inch) tortilla
- 3 cups popped popcorn
- 5 whole-wheat crackers
The importance of eating grains, especially whole grains was discussed during the online lesson about the MyPyramid. Do you remember why eating grains are important?
- Grains are important sources of many nutrients including dietary fiber, carbohydrates, B vitamins, and iron.
- Whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other diseases.
- Consuming foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains, may reduce constipation.
- Eating at least 3 ounces a day of whole grains may help you manage your weight.
A well-balanced diet rich in fiber is an important part of eating healthy. Fiber is found in plants and the foods that come from plants.
Fiber helps to regulate bowel movements, makes us feel full, and may help keep your heart healthy.
|Choose a diet of 20-30 grams of dietary fiber every day||5 Ways to Add Fiber to Your Diet|
|Eat at least 3 whole grain foods every day||Eat more legumes, such as dried beans|
|Eat at least 3 vegetables every day||Enjoy 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain bread|
|Eat at least 2 fruits every day||Eat high-fiber breakfast cereals|
|Eat corn, including popcorn|
|Choose brown rice instead of white rice|
Successful Tips for Adding Fiber
- Add fiber gradually
- Drink fluids. Aim to drink 8 cups of water every day.
Eat Healthy Foods and Save Money Too!
- To eat more whole grains, replace a whole-grain food for a refined grain food. For example, try eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or snack on popcorn (without added butter and salt) in place of pretzels.
- Extend meat dishes by adding pasta, oats, bread, rice and/or vegetables to make a tasty dish such as spaghetti, meat loaf, stir-fried rice, or casseroles.
- “Day-old” breads cost less and can be used for toast, breadcrumbs and stuffing.
- Try using whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes.
- Try an unsweetened, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal as crunchy salad topping or in place of crackers with soup.
- Freeze leftover cooked brown rice, bulgur, or barley. Heat and serve it later as a quick side dish.
- Plain shapes of pasta usually cost less than fancy shapes.
- Whole grain cereals such as toasted oat cereal.
- Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal when making cookies or other baked treats.
- Make your own whole-grain snack chip, such as baked tortilla chips by toasting corn tortillas.
- Popcorn is a whole grain and can be a healthy snack if made with little or no added salt or butter.
Whole Grain Tips for Children
- Set a good example for children by eating whole grains at meals or as snacks.
- Let children select and help prepare a whole grain side dish.
- Teach older children to read the ingredient list on cereals or snack food packages and choose those that contain whole grains.
What to Look for on the Food Label:
To find out if a product is a whole grain you need to read the food label for the following:
- Under the ingredients section of the label look at the first ingredient listed. Choose foods with one of the following whole-grains listed first in the ingredients:
- Brown rice
- Whole oats
- Whole rye
- Whole wheat
- Wild rice
- Whole-grain corn
- Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products.
- Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.
- Look at the nutrition facts label for fiber content. Remember, you are aiming for 20-30 grams of fiber per day.