Welcome to Lesson 2 of Lunchbox Lessons, Fuel Up with Whole Grains!
What are Whole Grains?
The Whole Grain Council is THE resource for information on whole grains. They define whole grains in accordance with the USDA.
“Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.
This definition means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.”
Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are a source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important to fuel our brains and body. Fueling up kids with whole grains gives them energy, fiber, and health benefits. The fiber they contain helps people stay regular and reduces risk of constipation. It may help reduce the risk for heart disease and can aid in weight management.
Whole Grain Label Confusion
Don’t be duped by marketing claims. Know what the labels on the products mean. Here are some commonly confusing terms you see in the grocery store.
The terms “made with whole grains” is not a regulated. It confuses consumers into thinking it’s filled with whole grains, when in fact it may only have one teaspoon in the whole product.
“Multigrain” also doesn’t mean whole grain. It just means the product is made from more than one type of grain.
“Stoneground” refers to how the product is processed. It has nothing to do with how many whole grains are in the product.
How will I know if it’s whole grain?
You can look for the Whole Grain Council’s Stamp on products in the grocery store.
The Whole Grain Stamp helps consumers know for sure if that product has a legitimate amount of whole grains. They have 2 stamps available to look for on products: The Basic (minimum requirement of 8 grams or more per serving of whole grains) and The 100% Stamp (minimum requirement of 16 grams per serving or more of whole grains).
If a product does not have a stamp, look at the ingredient list. If it starts with “enriched flour”, it is not whole grain.
How much does my child need?
Daily amounts can vary depending on your child’s age. Take a look at this chart from MyPlate to get specific recommendations for your child.
What counts as a serving?
- 1 slice of bread
- 5-7 crackers
- 1/2 cup oatmeal, cooked
- 1 mini bagel
- 3 cups of popcorn, popped
- 1 small tortilla
- 1/2 cup rice
- 1 (4 in) pancake
- 1/2 English muffin
Retail Dietitian Lunchbox Picks
Vermont Bread Company Whole Wheat Bread
Julie Harrington, who features her Supermarket RD picks every week, chose Vermont Bread Company’s whole wheat bread for your lunchbox. She encourage shoppers in her post to look at more than the packaging. Harrington states, “Another key item to look at when you are choosing whole wheat bread is the ingredient list. The first word that should be listed is the word “whole”. That is ensuring that the bran, germ, and endosperm (pictured above) are all present.”
Minute Ready to Serve Multi-Grain Medley
Cindy Silver, Consultant Retail Dietitian to Lowes Foods, likes Minute’s 100% Whole Grain Ready to Serve Medley. It contains 6 whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, wheat and rye.
Banana Crunch Granola Bars from Cara at Words to Eat By
No Bake Oats and Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Dixya at Food, Pleasure and Health
Fruited Yogurt Oat Mini Muffins by Heather Goesch Nutrition