Whole grains need to be part of your child’s and adolescent’s diet. Whole-grain foods contain all 3 elements of grains:

  • Bran (fibrous outer portion of the grain)
  • Endosperm (inner part of the grain)
  • Germ (heart of the grain kernel)

To make sure your child is getting plenty of whole grains or products made of whole grain, incorporate oatmeal, barley, whole wheat flour or bread, and wild and brown rice into her diet. (Keep in mind that wheat flour may not be the same as whole-grain flour.)

The amount of fiber in a food is not a good indicator of the amount of whole grain. That’s because different grains contain different amounts of fiber. Refined grains are milled, which is a process that removes the bran and germ. These refined grains include white flour, white bread, and white rice. However, many refined grains are enriched, meaning that some of their vitamins that are removed during milling (eg, folic acid, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin) are put back.

So what does the term whole grain really mean on a food label?

It indicates only that some whole grain is included. The only way to ensure that a product contains an actual serving of whole grain is if the label says so. The government’s dietary guidelines recommend that Americans eat three 1-oz servings of whole grains every day.

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