Grains are Great for a Quarter of Your Plate

Today’s blog is going to explore the Grain Products food group in more detail.

From my last blog: “Grain products are the portion of Canada’s Food Guide that provides us with the majority of the energy we require in the form of carbohydrates.”

Why is this food group so important? Whole grain products provide us with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds called phytonutrients. These components work together to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. At a meal, Grain Products should make up a quarter of our plates and can be included in snacks eaten through the day.

One food guide serving of Grain Products is:
• 30 g of cold cereal or 3/4 cup of hot cereal
• 1 Slice (35 g) of bread or 1/2 a bagel (45 g)
• 1/2 a pita (35 g) or 1/2 a tortilla (35 g)
• 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta

As far as what is recommended when it comes to this food group – make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.

Whole grain is best! When it comes to choosing grain products, look for “100% whole grain” on food labels or “whole” in front of the type of grain on the ingredient list, such as whole grain whole wheat or whole grain barley. A whole grain product is a food that contains all three parts of the grain kernel: the bran, the endosperm and the germ.

Refined grains should be chosen less often. According to Health Canada, refined grains are whole grains that have had the germ and the bran removed. The removal of these components causes a loss of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Some refined grains may be enriched with certain vitamins and minerals. In Canada, manufacturers are also required to fortify white flour with folic acid.

Here are some tips to include more “whole grain” grain products into your day:
• Choose cereals made with whole grains, bran or oats.
• Choose whole grain breads, buns, bagels and tortillas.
• Try whole wheat pasta, barley, couscous, quinoa or brown or wild rice.
• When baking, try substituting some or all of the flour in the recipe with whole wheat flour.

When choosing grain products:
• Limit choices that are high in fat, such as cookies, crackers and other baked goods.
• Choose sodium-reduced grain products, such as crackers.
• Items such as cookies, cakes, pastries and pies should be eaten sparingly.

Grain products are an important part of our diet; with more whole grain options being the best. Choose wisely!

In the next couple of weeks, I am going to tackle the specific food groups, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. If you have certain questions about any of these topics, please send them my way and I’ll include them in my blogs.

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!