Whole Grains 101

whole grains 101

What Counts as a Serving?

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Many people are confused about what "a serving" or "three servings" of whole grains actually means. A serving is not just whatever amount you feel like putting on your plate!

A Serving of 100% Whole Grain Foods

If you enjoy foods made entirely with whole grain, you can follow the suggestions in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, where a serving of whole grain is defined as any of the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

(The US Dietary Guidelines don't actually use the word "serving." They call the amounts above "ounce-equivalents." If you want to know more about ounce equivalents, click here. Skip it if you're doing fine without this term.)

16 grams = a Serving of Other Foods

Some 100% whole grain foods – like crackers, waffles, granola bars, etc. – aren't on the Dietary Guidelines' list, so it's hard to know what constitutes a serving.

Other foods might contain significant amounts of whole grain – but also contain some refined grain. It's only logical that you'd have to eat a larger amount of those foods to get the same amount of whole grain.

In both cases, you can count a serving of whole grains as 16 grams (16g) of whole grain ingredients.

A small amount of whole grain translates into big health benefits! 16 grams of whole wheat flour, for instance, would equal about one and half tablespoons.

Look for the Whole Grain Stamp

Before the advent of the Whole Grain Stamp, it was impossible to identify foods containing 16 grams of whole grains, so the government recommendations advised us to eat about an ounce of a food made totally with whole grains, to get about a serving of whole grain.

With the increased use of the Whole Grain Stamp, you can easily get your recommended three servings of whole grain each day, simply by eating three foods with the 100% Stamp, or six foods with any Whole Grain Stamp.

Every product bearing the Whole Grain Stamp contains at least half a serving (8g) of whole grains.

All information on this website is © 2003-2013, Oldways Preservation Trust/Whole Grains Council, unless otherwise noted.