Grains Contribute to the Overall Diet Quality through Key Essential and Shortfall Nutrients

To make “every bite count” it is important to choose a variety of foods from all food groups and limit added sugars and foods high in sodium. The Dietary Guidelines recommendation to eat half of your grains from whole grain sources illustrates that both whole and enriched grains provide necessary nutrients.

  • Nutrients typically under consumed in the American diet (also known as “shortfall nutrients”) and associated with health concerns are calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D
  • For women of childbearing ages and those pregnant or lactating, it is important to consume foods high in folic acid, iron, iodine and choline.
  • Enriched grains are the largest contributor of folic acid in the American diet. Additionally, almost 40% of the dietary fiber in the American diet comes from refined grain foods.
  • Grain foods provide dietary fiber as well as essential vitamins such as folate, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and vitamin A; as well as minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.


According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the enriched grain figure below is the minimum suggested amount of enriched grains to consume.

Age Enriched Grain Daily Minimum Recommendation
Children 2-3 years 1.5 oz-equiv
4-8 years 2.5 oz-equiv
Girls 9-13 years 3 oz-equiv
14-18 years 3 oz-equiv
Boys 9-13 years 3 oz-equiv
14-18 years 4 oz-equiv
Women 19-30 years 3 oz-equiv
31-50 years 3 oz-equiv
51+ years 3 oz-equiv
Men 19-30 years 4 oz-equiv
31-50 years 3.5 oz-equiv
51+ years 3 oz-equiv
*Oz-Equiv = Ounce-Equivalent


Type of Food / Serving Size
Mini Bagel 1 mini bagel
biscuit 1 small biscuit (2” diameter)
Bread Slice 1 small slice white bread (white wheat, French, sourdough)
Cornbread 1 small piece cornbread (2.5” x 1.25” x 1.25”)
Crackers 7 square or round saltine or snack crackers
English Muffin 1/2 plain or raisin English muffin
Muffin 1 small (bran, corn, plain) muffin  (2.5” diameter)
Pancakes 2 small pancakes (3” diameter)
Cereal 1.25 cup ready-to-eat cereal (corn flakes, puffed rice)
Rice 1 oz. dry white rice
Pasta 1 oz. dry pasta
Tortilla 1 flour/corn tortilla (6” diameter)

More to Explore

Explore recipes that use staple enriched grains to deliver nutritious and delicious meals for your whole family to enjoy!

Do grains have a place in a healthy diet?

See overall findings from an expert panel discussion on how whole and refined grains can make meaningful nutrient contributions to a healthy diet.

The Consensus Is: Enriched Grains, Enriched Life.


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