Ninety percent of Americans fail to meet the recommended daily guidelines for whole-grain consumption, which vary by gender and age.

 Whole grains include oatmeal, brown or wild rice, buckwheat, bulgur, whole-wheat cereal, whole-wheat pasta and quinoa. (Click here for a full list. Be sure to differentiate them from refined grains, and make organic choices.) 

“Start the day right with a bowl of whole-grain cereal, fat-free milk and fruit,” says Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian and culinary consultant in New York City. 

“Americans need to close the whole-grains gap,” says Newgent, author of Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-Pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low-Carbon Lifestyle. “Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals and are also loaded with fiber—a great tool for weight management because it fills you up and keeps you satisfied.” 

Whole-grain cereals are “familiar, satisfying, taste great and offer the utmost in convenience for busy consumers,” she adds.

“What you add to your cereal can elevate it to a real taste sensation and nutritional powerhouse.” (Saturday’s recipe for Mandarin Orange Cereal Bowl is a perfect example.)

 Whole grains help prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer, Newgent says, and studies show consumption is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Also by Jackie Newgent: The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook