A healthy diet means one low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol and high in fiber. That is what makes whole grains such a nutritional powerhouse - they are low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies show that eating whole grains can even help protect against diabetes.

Adults should get at least 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, and whole grains can be a healthy part of that total. It is true that whole grains are a carbohydrate and can raise your glucose levels. But paradoxically, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found that eating even more fiber than that recommended by the American Diabetes Association can improve blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.  

What are Whole Grains?
You will find whole grain fiber in the part of plants that your body cannot digest. According to Food and Drug Administration, whole grains contain three key ingredients - bran (the fiber-filled outer part of the kernel), endosperm (the inner part and usually all that is left in most processed grains) and the germ (the heart of the grain kernel).

How does fiber help the body? It helps elimination by providing bulk for stool formation and hastens the passage of stool through the colon.

Good Sources of Whole Grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa; resembles rice)
  • Wheatberries, cracked wheat and bulgur (forms of wheat)
  • Corn and popcorn
  • Whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta
Tips for Adding Whole Grains to Your Diet
  • Make sure your cereals say whole grain.
  • When making meatloaf or meatballs, substitute some grain (such as oatmeal, bulgur or brown rice) for some of the meat.
  • Eat brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta instead of white rice, bread, and pasta.
  • Try international foods (such as Indian cuisine) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main dish.

    Counting Fiber

    Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13