Tips for Grain Products

Explore the variety of grain products, especially whole grains that are recommended in Canada's Food Guide. Grain products are typically low in fat. It is how they are prepared that matters! Find out more about:

Choosing Grain Products

Use these tips wherever you are - at home, at school, at work or when eating out!

Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day

  • Eat a variety of whole grains such as barley,
    brown rice, oats, quinoa, and wild rice.
  • Enjoy whole grain breads such as barley, oatmeal or whole wheat pasta.
  • Look at the ingredient list rather than the colour of a food to select whole grain foods. For example, brown bread may simply be white bread coloured with molasses.
  • Buy bread and cereals made from whole grains. The first ingredient listed should be whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, whole grain corn, brown rice, wild rice, barley, bulgur, or oats.
  • Choose whole wheat, multi-grain or pumpernickel varieties of bread, bagels, pita bread and tortillas.

Treat Your Taste Buds

  • Try whole wheat pasta or couscous,
    brown or wild rice, barley and quinoa.
  • Pick a cereal that is made with whole grains, bran or oats. A "high fibre" cereal provides at least four grams of fibre per serving. Oat and wheat bran cereals may not be whole grain but they are still high fibre choices.
  • Limit grain products high in fat, particularly those made with hydrogenated and trans fats such as cookies, crackers and other baked goods. Check the food label.
  • Have whole wheat toast or bagels instead of croissants, doughnuts or pastries.
  • Look for sodium-reduced grain products, including crackers.
  • Keep cookies, cakes, pastries and pies for special occasions.

Read Food Labels

All the information on the Nutrition Facts table is based on a specific amount of food. This amount may be different than one Food Guide Serving.

You can use the Nutrition Facts table to:

  • Compare products more easily;
  • Determine the nutritional value of foods; and
  • Help you choose a product with more or less of a particular nutrient.

Use the food label to choose grain products that are low in fat, sugar or salt.

Example 1:
See the Nutrition Facts table to compare the amount of fat, fibre, sodium or sugar in different grain products such as bread, bakery products, cereals, cookies, crackers and muffins.

Product 1

Nutrition Facts
Per 1 1/4 cup (30 g)
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 110
Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated 0 g
+ Trans 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 240 mg 10 %
Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Fibre 1 g 4 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A 0 %   Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 0 %   Iron 30 %

Product 2

Nutrition Facts
Per 3/4 cup (30 g)
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 110
Fat 0.5 g 1 %
Saturated 0 g
+ Trans 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 190 mg 8 %
Carbohydrate 24 g 8 %
Fibre 5 g 20 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 0 %   Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 2 %   Iron 30 %

If you are trying to increase the amount of fibre you eat, choose a product that has a high  % Daily Value of fibre. Product 2 has a 20% Daily Value of fibre in contrast to Product 1 which has a 4% Daily Value of fibre. Choose products such as bread and cereals that are sources of fibre.

Example 2:
You can also read the ingredient list to make informed food choices. For example, to choose grain products that are whole grain look in the ingredient list. Examples of whole grains include amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, whole oats or oatmeal, whole rye, whole wheat flour, and wild rice. Whole grain foods will have the word "whole" or "whole grain" followed by the name of the grain as one of the first ingredients. For example, whole grain whole wheat or whole grain oats.

For more about making informed food choices with food labels, check out the Interactive Nutrition Label and Quiz.

Preparing Grain Products

Prepare grain products that taste great!

  • Mix different whole grain cereals in your bowl and enjoy with milk.
  • Add a spoonful of unprocessed bran or bran cereal to oatmeal for added fibre.
  • Have whole grain breads, pita or tortillas for sandwiches, wraps and quesadillas.
  • Use whole grain pasta or couscous in place of regular pasta and enjoy the great taste.
  • Mix brown or wild rice with white rice for more fibre and a nutty flavour.
  • Bake with whole wheat flour. In most recipes, you can substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Add barley to soups and salads.
  • Experiment with bulgur, kamut and quinoa in cereals, salads or soups.

Prepare grain products that are low in fat, sugar or salt

  • Have whole wheat toast or bagels instead of croissants, doughnuts or pastries.
  • Choose only one spread on your sandwich. For example, when using peanut butter or mayonnaise, skip the margarine.
  • Enjoy the true taste of grain products. When adding sauces or spreads, use small amounts.
  • Omit or reduce the amount of salt you use in cooking.

Keep grain products fresh and safe to eat.

  • Use bakery products by the "best before" date or keep in the freezer until you are ready to use.
  • Store dry goods such as flours, cereals, rice and pasta in dry airtight containers away from heat and light.
  • Keep whole grain flour and wheat germ in a cool dark place or the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.

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