Kudos to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for making whole grains the new norm in employee cafeterias at USDA headquarters (Whitten and South buildings). It’s refreshing when a government organization – or anyone, for that matter – practices what they preach.

In fact, USDA (whose Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion leads the updating and promotion of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans) went beyond the “make at least half your grains whole” message in the Guidelines. According to an article in the Washington Post, as of this week diners in USDA cafeterias will automatically be served 100% whole grain pasta and breads unless they specifically request refined grains. (Plus, the cafeterias are tossing their deep fat fryers and lowering the sodium in many foods.)

We love the idea of making whole grains the automatic default. That’s what foodservice giant Compass does, in many of its workplace cafeterias and with its corporate catering. Here’s a sign they post to alert diners to the fact that whole grains are the norm:


Making whole grains more accessible in corporate cafeterias is all to the good, as new research from Sweden indicates. Researchers at Karolinska University followed 3180 women and 2297 men aged 35 to 56 years for 8 to 10 years and found that those with the highest whole grain intake (more than 59.1g per day) had a 34% lower risk of a pre-diabetic deterioration in glucose tolerance, compared to those with the whole grain intake of 30.6 grams a day or less. 

30 grams of whole grain is about the equivalent in two slices of 100% whole grain bread. Add a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, or a serving of brown rice at dinner, and you’ll vault into the top group, with more than 59 grams of whole grain. A pretty tasty way to potentially cut your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

Will the changes at USDA bring lower diabetes risk and healthier meals to the 40,000 USDA employees that normally eat in these cafeterias daily? Maybe, maybe not. Apparently the nearby Department of Energy cafeteria is still serving white bread and keeping their deep fat fryers. (Cynthia)



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