Substitute Whole Grains for Refined

Families, Food and Fitness May 31, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Author: Susan Hansen, MS, Extension Educator, Nebraska Cooperative Extension System, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Half of your grain intake each day should be from whole grains. For most people, five to six ounces of grains is recommended. Some people may need to increase their total grain consumption (including whole grains) while others will need to substitute whole grains for the more refined grains. A whole grain has the bran, germ and endosperm while a refined grain uses only the endosperm.

Whole grain pasta and rice can be used in casseroles, soups and other main dishes instead of white rice and pasta made from refined flour. Be aware that whole grain pasta and rice take longer to cook because of the bran and germ. There will also be a texture difference. Consider substituting lesser known whole grains such as quinoa or hominy for the refined grains.

image of dry oatmeal

When choosing breakfast cereal, look for a cereal with at least three grams of fiber. Almost all dry cereals have some whole grains but some popular choices have less than one gram of fiber per serving. In addition, read the label to check out the ingredients for not only whole grains, but also the amount of sugar present in each serving. Remember that words such as fructose, dextrose and maltose also mean sugar.

When baking, you can substitute up to one half of the white flour with whole grain flour. The baked product will be heavier due to the weight of the bran and germ. To help your family members adjust to the changes, consider substituting a small portion of the whole grain flour at first. Gradually increase the amount of whole grain flour versus the white flour. Whole grain pizza dough, pancakes, waffles and muffins are easy ways to enjoy whole grains.

Don’t forget easy choices such as substituting whole grain bread for white bread. In addition to whole wheat bread, consider options such as rye or oatmeal bread. Read the label to make an informed choice as to amount of fiber and whole grains contained in each slice. Whole grain tortillas can be easily substituted for white tortillas. Use the leftover whole grain bread slices in meatballs or meatloaf. Whole grain French toast tastes great and has a hearty texture.



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.