It’s assumed that kids will turn up their noses at whole-grain foods like oats, whole wheat bread, and brown rice if offered to them, but that may not be the case.
In another strike against “kid food,” a new study from the University of Florida indicates kids will eat whole grains if they’re offered. In fact, they’ll eat them in equal amounts to foods containing refined-grains, especially if they’re snack foods.
One of the authors of the study, Allyson Radford, said, “We tried to choose foods we thought kids would enjoy, such as cereal bars, macaroni and cheese and SunChips and found that they ate the ready-to-eat snack foods the most.”
“We were interested to see if they would eat the whole-grain foods as much as the refined-grain foods, and so we were pleasantly surprised that they would eat the same amount whether the food was whole or refined.”
A few healthy whole grain snack or easy meal ideas include:
It is recommended by the 2021 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that about half of people’s grain consumption be whole grains. Adolescents are urged to consume five to seven ounces of grains per day, with at least half being whole grains. Surveys indicate the actual consumption of whole grains by adolescents is much less, coming in at about one ounce.
New school lunch requirements should help increase that number. Under the new rules, schools are required to provide only whole-grain rich products. Though this is a step in the right direction, there has been much concern from parents that their kids won’t eat the whole grain foods offered.
Happily, this recent research indicates otherwise. Researchers think the best way to ease kids into eating more whole grains is to start with snacks at home.
“Encouraging consumption of whole-grains foods that require little to no preparation may be the most effective means of increasing whole grain intake at home,” Radford said.
Whole-grain foods like popcorn, brown rice, and oats, when combined with a healthy diet, can help reduce the risk of heart disease and assist with weight management. In a time when we’re increasingly concerned about childhood obesity, the fact that kids will eat whole grains is welcome knowledge.