Balanced Diet - Going with the Grain

According to the USDA, a balanced diet consists of Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Protein, and Dairy. But how many grains do you need and what counts as “grain” serving? The USDA recommends at least six one-ounce servings of grains to maintain a healthy diet, if you are an average person consuming 2,000 calories per day.   

Of those six servings, it is also recommended to make half of those servings whole grains. What differentiates the whole grains from refined grains is the milling process. Whole grains contain the entire kernel or seed of the plant – the bran, germ and endosperm. Whereas refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and the germ. While it gives the grains a finer texture and longer shelf life, the process removes fiber, iron and some vitamins. Most refined grains are then enriched, which adds back in certain vitamins and iron. It’s important to note that some foods are made from a mixture of whole and refined grains.

 

The following chart shows the breakdown of daily recommendations of grain foods based on age and gender.  The amount of grains you need to eat depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. Recommended daily amounts are listed in the chart. Most Americans consume enough grains, but few are whole grains. At least half of all the grains eaten should be whole grains.

   
Daily Recommendation

Daily Minimum amount of whole grains

Children

2-3 Years Old 3 ounce equivalents ** 1 1/2 ounce equivalents
4-8 years old 5 ounce equivalents ** 2 1/2 ouce equivalents

Girls

9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **
14-18 years old 6 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **

Boys

9-13 years old 6 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **
14-18 years old 8 ounce equivalents ** 4 ounce equivalents **

Women

19-30 years old 6 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **
51+ years old 5 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **

Men

19-30 years old 8 ounce equivalents ** 4 ounce equivalents **
31-50 years old 7 ounce equivalents ** 3.5 ounce equivalents **
51+ years old 6 ounce equivalents ** 3 ounce equivalents **

*These amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. Those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs. (www.choosemyplate.gov)