Originally posted here by Kristina Thone, clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital

Set a good example for your children by eating whole grains with meals or as snacks. Grains have three components and they make up the entire seed of a plant. Whole grains are the best choice for your family because they are rich in fiber – which aides in digestion, contain many vitamins and minerals, as well as small amounts of protein. In comparison, a refined grain is processed to remove two of the three components which eliminates most of the health benefits. Although many products now contain “enriched” flour, which may add vitamins back into the refined grain, much of the fiber is never replaced. Since so many of us, especially children, have difficulty reaching our daily fiber goals, eating whole grains can provide the assistance we need to have a diet rich in fiber.

What to look for on packaging?

To ensure you are buying a whole grain product, always look at the ingredient list. Although the front of packaging may claim the product is whole wheat or whole grain, unless those words are also the first ingredient on the label, the product is actually made from a refined grain. Also, be sure to steer clear of the words enriched or bleached on the ingredient list. When purchasing bread, look for products that are 100 percent whole wheat to make sure you are buying a whole grain product.

A few whole grain options include:

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • 100 percent whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice (gluten free)
  • Oats (gluten free available)
  • Quinoa (gluten free)
  • Popcorn kernels (gluten free)
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat (gluten free)
  • Amaranth (gluten free)
  • Millet
  • Bulgur

How can you and your family add more whole grains into your diet?

  • Offer oatmeal and whole wheat cereals
  • Change from white bread to wheat bread
  • Switch to whole-wheat pasta
  • Swap white rice for brown rice
  • Use whole-wheat crackers and pretzels in snacks
  • Air pop popcorn as a snack
  • Bake with whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour

To learn more about food and nutrition services at Texas Children’s, click here.