Eat More Whole Grains

Take charge of your health by eating more whole-grain foods. You'll get key vitamins, minerals and fiber you need to stave off disease.

  • How Many Grains Do I Need?
    By: Anne Cain, R.D., Rita Maas

    How Many Grains Do I Need?

    According to the MyPyramid healthy eating guide from the U.S.D.A., for a 2,000-calorie diet, you need about six servings of grain products each day, and at least half those should be whole grains.

  • Barley Sausage Skillet
    By: Anne Cain, R.D., Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke


    This hardy grain is a good source of fiber and potassium and is used frequently in cereals, breads, and soups. Two varieties of barley. whole-grain (hulled) barley and pearl barley, are most often found at markets. Barley flour has a strong nutty flavor when toasted; try adding it to breads. Pearl barley is a great source of fiber; 1/2 cup provides more than 12 grams.

    Recipe: Baked Barley with Shiitake Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

  • Brown Rice
    By: Anne Cain, R.D., Randy Mayor

    Brown Rice

    Brown rice has twice the amount of fiber as white rice. When fiber is part of an overall healthy diet it can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, and reduce constipation and diverticulosis.

    Recipe: Miso Chicken with Brown Rice

  • Buckwheat
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.


    Whole grains such as buckwheat are sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation. It is also important for a healthy immune system.

    Recipe: Smoked Salmon Buckwheat Pinwheels

  • Bulgur(cracked wheat)
    By: Anne Cain, R.D., Becky Luigart-Stayner

    Bulgur (cracked wheat)

    Bulgur is wheat berries that have been steamed, dried, and then cracked. Whole grains such as bulgur are good non-meat sources of iron, and the vitamin C in this recipe from orange juice and lime juice helps that iron to be better absorbed. The black beans that are mixed in with the bulgur also provide iron and protein.

    Recipe: Mexican Bulgur Salad with Citrus-Jalapeno Vinaigrette

  • Flaxseed
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.


    Its nutty flavor is temptation enough, but flaxseed is also a health powerhouse. Although it has the distinction of being one of the oldest cultivated grains on the planet, flaxseed is a relative stranger to the American kitchen. It shouldn't be, though. Not only does flaxseed's flavor transform cooking, but the tiny, reddish-brown seed is also a mini-bastion of nutrition and other healthy properties. Among its bragging rights: fiber, lignans, and omega-3 fats.

    Recipe: Confetti Rice Pilaf with Toasted Flaxseed

  • Millet
    By: Anne Cain, R.D., Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke and Jan Gautro


    Millet is a small, round yellow whole grain that's a staple in many parts of Asia, Europe and northern Africa. It's used mostly for mixed dishes such as pilaf or casseroles, for cooked cereal, and can be ground into flour for bread.

    Recipe: Millet Muffins with Honey-Pecan Butter

  • Oats
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.


    The soluble fiber that's so plentiful in oatmeal and oat bran appears to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats also have plenty of vitamins B1, B2, and E and are low in calories–only 150 in a half-cup of dry oats, which also provides 4 grams of dietary fiber.

    Recipe: Spiced Apple-Pecan Oatmeal

  • Quinoa
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.


    Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is an ancient grain that is a good alternative to rice because of its lightness. Try it for breakfast by serving it with maple syrup and milk, adding it to pancake and muffin batter, or mixing it with potatoes for croquettes. The tiny beige-colored seeds, about the size of pellets of couscous, cook in about 20 minutes. A good source of protein and fiber, 1/2 cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.

    Click here for more ways to use quinoa.

    Recipe: Sausage and Bean Ragu on Quinoa Macaroni

  • Rye
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.


    Rye is most commonly seen as flour, both light and dark. Pumpernickel bread is made from dark rye flour. Also available are whole rye berries, which are green and work nicely in salads–chewy and neutral in flavor, they hold their shape when cooked. Rye is now often available rolled as well. Look for it in supermarkets or health-food stores. Rolled rye cooks quickly and makes tasty breakfast cereals.

    Recipe: Rye Berry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

  • Wheat Bread
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.

    Wheat Bread

    A simple way to increase the whole grains in your diet is simply to replace regular white breads with whole wheat breads. You get a double dose of grains in this yeast bread since it's got whole wheat flour and oats in addition to all-purpose flour. If you're buying whole wheat bread, make sure it has "100 percent whole wheat" on the label instead of just "wheat bread".

    Recipe: Honey-Oatmeal Wheat Bread

  • Wheat Germ
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.

    Wheat Germ

    Wheat is the world's largest cereal grass crop, with its thousands of varieties. A few common types are wheat berries (big, chewy, unprocessed kernels of wheat), wheat bran (exterior layer of the wheat berry), and wheat germ. Wheat germ is a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals, a quarter-cup contains 130 calories, 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and no sodium or cholesterol. It offers about a third of the daily requirement for vitamin E, one of the antioxidant nutrients. Add to this a little folic acid and a lot of trace minerals–zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and chromium–and you've got a powerhouse in each bite.

    Recipe: Honeyed Yogurt and Mixed Berries with Whole-Grain Waffles

  • Wild Rice
    By: Anne Cain, R.D.

    Wild Rice

    Although wild rice is technically a seed from a type of grass, it's often used in place of grains or mixed in with other grains. Because it's a seed, it's a good source of protein, and like brown rice, high in fiber. Recipe:Wild Rice Stuffing

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