I read in your last issue that we should eat 48 grams of whole grain each day. How do you know what constitutes a serving of whole grain? Do you have any guidelines that would help me calculate how much whole grain various foods contain?
If the Whole Grain Stamp appears on a package, the stamp will tell you how many grams of whole grains you get in one serving. But what if there is no stamp? We turned to Kara Berrini, program manager for the Whole Grains Council, for an answer to this question. Here’s her great answer, tailored specifically for the gluten- free diet, combined with some information from the Whole Grains Council website: “You can’t always calculate the number of grams of whole grains if the Whole Grain Stamp isn’t present. This conundrum is exactly why the Whole Grains Council created the Whole Grain Stamp. That being said, there are a few times when you can figure out exactly how many grams of whole grains you’re getting in the whole grain food you eat, such as a bowl of gluten- free oats, or a batch of amaranth, or a pot of brown rice risotto. When it comes to singleingredient products or products where all the ingredients are whole grain, it’s very easy to calculate the grams of whole grains you’re going to be eating: Just look at the serving size on the nutrition facts panel, l then divide by the number of servings when you’re done cooking. For example, if you’re making some brown rice to go with dinner, a serving size of dry brown rice is about 1 /4 cup or 42g, and this makes 3 /4 cup brown rice when cooked. If you plan to serve two people with that amount, you’d simply divide 42g by 2 and you’d know that each of you will consume 21g of whole grains with your dinner. But what if you’re looking at a loaf of gluten- free, whole-grain bread or popcorn cakes? This is when things get trickier, and unfortunately, there’s no real solid way to know how many grams of whole grains you’re getting. Unless the manufacturer announces how many grams of whole grains are in each serving, whether by using the Whole Grain Stamp or by calling this fact out somewhere on their package design, it’s just too tough to try to guess. First, check the package label. Many whole- grain products not yet using the Stamp will list the grams of whole grains somewhere on the package, or say something like “100% whole wheat.” You can trust these statements. But be skeptical if you see the words “whole grain” without more details, such as “crackers made with whole grain.” The product may contain only minuscule amounts of whole grains. Second, check the ingredient list and see how close to the beginning of the list you find whole- grain ingredients. Here is a sample of some terms that indicate whole grains are being used: whole (name of grain), stoneground whole (name of grain), brown rice, and oats. The term multi- grain may describe several whole grains or several refined grains or a mix of both. If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” it is likely—but not guaranteed—that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half). More information on whole grains is available at wholegrainscouncil.org.