(StatePoint) Most people want to make healthy eating decisions, but there are lots of messages vying for attention in supermarkets. This is especially true when it comes to following the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation to choose products with whole grain as the first ingredient.
According to Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of “The Doctors,” shoppers can find nutritional cues on the front of food boxes, but also should read the Nutrition Fact panels on their sides.
When it comes to whole grain, look for the words “whole grain” as the first ingredient in the ingredient list. Ingredient lists detail ingredients in order of prevalence. If the first ingredient has the word “whole” or “whole grain” followed by a grain like wheat or oats, it means the food contains more whole grain than any other single ingredient.
“One of the best ways to boost whole grain intake is to examine the products your family already loves, and look for the ones that have a whole grain at the top of the ingredient list,” said Stork.
For example, when it comes to breakfast, more than 50 cereals with the white check, like Cheerios and Kix, now have more whole grain than any other single ingredient — with the same great taste. These cereals also list the grams of whole grain per serving on the side of their boxes.
Whole grain is an important part of a healthy diet. In connection with healthier lifestyles, a diet rich in whole grain has been linked to healthier body weights, and it may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. According to the Dietary Guidelines, more than 95 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of whole grain.
Dr. Stork recommends these tips for finding whole grain and stocking your pantry with the right food:
• Start Early! The Dietary Guidelines recommend people get at least 48 grams of whole grain in their daily diets. Get a jump on the day’s nutrition by incorporating whole grain into your morning routine. When choosing cereal make sure whole grain is listed as the first ingredient. One easy choice is cereal with the white check, which has more whole grain than any other single ingredient.
• Make Simple Swaps. Choose whole grain versions of foods you love. Great options include whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread or whole grain crackers. Also, try different types of whole grain. Use brown rice instead of white rice as a side dish at dinner or popcorn, which is a whole grain, for a snack.
• Don’t Judge a Food by Its Cover. The front of food packages provide good nutritional cues, but remember to read the ingredients and check nutrition labels and side labels for additional health information. Cereals with the white check even include the amount of whole grain per serving on packaging.
For more about adding whole grain to your diet visit WholeGrainNation.com .
Remember, eating right starts with what you put into your shopping cart.