Grains are one of the 5 food groups considered an important building block of a healthy diet. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other cereal grain is a grain product. Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. When eaten regularly, the nutrients in grains help build bones and form red blood cells, reduce constipation, contribute to a healthy immune system, and reduce the risk of some chronic disease.

The essential vitamins and minerals contained in grains also contribute to optimal health by:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain forms of cancer
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Decreasing risk of bone loss and developing kidney stones

Enjoy whole grains every day

It is recommended that at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains. Grains can be divided into two subgroups:

  • Whole grain products are made from the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm.
  • Refined grain products have been processed to remove parts of the kernel for a finer texture and/or to increase product shelf life.  This process removes many important nutrients, including iron, B vitamins and dietary fiber.  
    • Enriched refined grains have had iron and B vitamins added back into the grain product, but not the fiber.

Enjoy more whole grains in your diet by:

  • Reading ingredient labels and choosing products that name a whole-grain ingredient first—like ‘whole wheat’, ‘brown rice’, or ‘oats.’
  • Using whole grains—like brown rice or barley— in soups, stews, or salads.
  • Snacking on whole grain foods, such as popcorn or 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.
  • Making sandwiches with 100% whole wheat bread or bagels

Get more information about the grain foods at