Home > Food > Planning Healthy Meals > All About Whole Grains

All About Whole Grains

Here are some shopping tips for buying breads and cereals:

  • Stick with whole-grain varieties, including whole wheat, multigrain, rye, millet, oat bran, oat, and cracked wheat. (This goes for all types of bread: sliced bread, pita, bagels, English muffins, crackers, and so on.)
  • Although “wheat” bread might sound just as healthy as “whole-wheat” bread, don't be fooled; it's merely a blend of white and whole-wheat flour. A product labeled “whole-wheat” must be made from 100 percent whole-wheat flour.
  • Check the label and choose breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
  • If you're looking to save calories, try the whole-wheat, reduced-calorie bread (approximately 40 calories per slice with 2 grams of fiber).
  • Don't forget to check the expiration date on the label.
  • Take advantage of the fiber that some cereals pack in, and choose varieties that have at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. You can usually (not always) get a sense of whether a cereal has fiber from the name on the box (Bran Flakes, All-Bran, 100% Bran, Raisin Bran, Fiber-One, Shredded Wheat, and Corn Bran).
  • Some cereals pack in more sugar and salt than most people realize. Check the “Total Carbohydrates” against the “Sugars” (on the nutrition label) to make sure sugar is not a main ingredient. In fact, opt for the brands that report 6 grams of sugar or less per serving. If your kids (or spouse) insist on the sugary brand, mix it with half a bowl of a healthier look-alike (for instance, half Frosted Flakes and half Bran Flakes).
  • Check the serving size. Some of the denser, heavier cereals only allot a miniscule amount for one serving. Take this into consideration if you plan to eat a normal-size bowl (and you're watching your weight). Remember, double the serving size means double the calories.
  • Don't forget to throw some hot cereal into your cart. Whether you opt for the instant or the kind that requires cooking, stick with unsweetened varieties of oatmeal, grits, cream of rice, and cream of wheat. You can sweeten them with some of the fresh fruit you bought in the produce section.
  • Most cereals are low in fat with the exception of granola and others that add nuts, seeds, coconut, and oils. Read the label and choose cereals with no more than 2 grams of fat per serving.
  • Read the list of ingredients on your cereal box and make sure that wheat, rye, corn, or oats are listed first. Items are listed in the order of quantity.

Pasta, Rice, and More

Pasta is one of those American staple foods that everyone seems to enjoy. What's more, pasta is high in complex carbohydrates, easy to make, and inexpensive. Don't stop at the box of spaghetti; try the elbow macaroni, ziti, rigatoni, penne, fusilli, orzo, shells, bow ties, and lasagna noodles. If your supermarket has any whole-grain varieties, throw them in your basket; they're a great source of fiber.

Rice is another excellent source of complex carbohydrates and tends to be a popular standard in many homes. The most nutritious is brown rice, with a bit more fiber than the white varieties. Next in the nutrition line-up is polished white rice, and last is the instant white rice, with the fewest nutrients of all.

Try some of the not-so-common grains. Pile your cart with whole-grain couscous, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, kasha, millet, polenta, wheat berries, and cracked wheat. They are all brimming with complex carbohydrates—so jazz up your dinners and impress your family!


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks