How much is Enough?
How much whole grain should you be eating? And what foods can help you enjoy healthy levels of whole grain consumption?
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2011, recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that's at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains. Even children need 2 to 3 servings or more. Recommendations in Canada's Food Guide are almost exactly the same. (Not surprising, since the human body changes little from country to country!)
The health evidence has increasingly convinced governments and health organizations worldwide to recommend daily consumption of whole grains. Click here to see a listing of different countries' recommendations for whole grain.
Yet consumption lags far behind these recommendations. For example, the average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of Americans never eat whole grains at all.
Whole Grains at Every Meal
In the U.S., the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend meeting the daily requirement by eating three "ounce-equivalents" of breads, rolls, cereals or other grain foods made with 100% whole grains, or six "ounce-equivalents" made with an equal mix of whole and refined grain. A slice of bread or a serving of breakfast cereal usually weighs about an ounce.
Want an easier way to think about it, no matter what country you're in? Just look at your plate at each meal, and make sure you've included some source of whole grains. That's why our slogan is "Whole Grains at Every Meal."
Every Little Bit Helps
While three or more servings each day will optimize your health benefits, scientists and health experts agree that every bit of whole grain you eat contributes to your health. Even small amounts can start you on the road to better health. So look for ways to get a little here, a little there.
While it's healthier to eat foods made totally with whole grains, you may want to change over gradually. To start, you can also get the whole grains you need from foods made with a mix of whole grains and refined grains.
This means you have lots of delicious choices that match your taste preferences. After a while, as your taste buds grow to love the fuller, nuttier taste of whole grains, some of your old favorites may seem surprisingly bland!