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Make half your grains whole grains.

What foods are in the Grains Group?

Foods made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, grits, and tortillas are examples of grain products. Foods such as popcorn, rice, and oatmeal are also included in the Grains Group.

Grains have two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains have the entire grain kernel, which includes the bran, germ, and endosperm. Some whole-grain examples are whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, and brown rice.

Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life. But it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are white flour, corn grits, white bread, and white rice.

Refined grains should be enriched. This means adding back certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron. However, fiber is not added back to enriched grains. Check the ingredient list on refined grain products. The word "enriched" should appear in the grain name.

Some food products are made from mixtures of whole grains and refined grains. Only foods that are made with 100% whole grains are considered a whole grain food.

How many grain foods are needed daily?

The amount of grains you need to eat depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity. Your amount can also depend on whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding/ lactating.

Most people living in the United States eat enough total grain foods. However, the balance is off – many eat too much refined grains and not enough whole grains. At least half of the grains we eat should be whole grains. When reading food labels, look for the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list. When choosing what grains to eat it is also important to limit added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat by checking the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list on the package.

Find the right amount of whole grains for you by getting your MyPlate Plan. For general recommendations, see the table below.

What counts as an ounce-equivalent (oz-equiv) of grains?

The following are some grain food portions that are equal to one ounce:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal
  • ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal

The table below lists specific amounts that count as 1 ounce-equivalent of grains.

More About the Grains Group

Note: Click on the top row to expand the table. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to turn your phone to see the full table.

*These are general recommendations by age. Find the right amount for you by getting your MyPlate Plan.

Daily Recommendations*
  Total Grains
in ounce-equivalents 
Whole Grains in ounce-equivalents
Toddlers 12 to 23 months 1¾ to 3 oz-equiv 1½ to 2 oz-equiv
Children 2-3 yrs
4-8 yrs
3 to 5 oz-equiv
4 to 6 oz-equiv
1½ to 3 oz-equiv
2 to 3 oz-equiv
Girls 9-13 yrs
14-18 yrs
5 to 7 oz-equiv
6 to 8 oz-equiv
2½ to 3½ oz-equiv
3 to 4 oz-equiv
Boys 9-13 yrs
14-18 yrs
5 to 9 oz-equiv
6 to 10 oz-equiv
3 to 4½ oz-equiv
3 to 5 oz-equiv
Women 19-30 yrs
31-59 yrs
60+ yrs
6 to 8 oz-equiv
5 to 7 oz-equiv
5 to 7 oz-equiv
3 to 4 oz-equiv
3 to 3½ oz-equiv
3 to 3½ oz-equiv
Men 19-30 yrs
31-59 yrs
60+ yrs
8 to 10 oz-equiv
7 to 10 oz-equiv
6 to 9 oz-equiv
4 to 5 oz-equiv
3½ to 5 oz-equiv
3 to 4½ oz-equiv


When available, choose whole grain versions.

  Amount that counts as 1 ounce-equivalent (oz-equiv) of grains
Bagels 2" mini bagel
Bagel or pita chips ⅓ cup bagel or pita chips
Barley ½ cup, cooked
Buckwheat ½ cup, cooked
Biscuits 1 small biscuit

1 regular slice of bread

1 small slice of French bread

4 snack-size slices of rye bread

Bulgur ½ cup, cooked
Challah bread

1 medium or regular slice


1 small chapati or roti (6")

½ large chapati or roti (8")

Cornbread 1 small piece of cornbread
Couscous ½ cup, cooked

5 whole wheat crackers

2 rye crisp breads

7 square or round crackers

English muffins ½ English muffin
Muffins 1 small muffin

½ cup, cooked

1 packet instant

1 ounce (⅓ cup) dry (regular or quick)


1 pancake (4½" diameter)

2 small pancakes (3" diameter)

Pasta -- spaghetti, macaroni, noodles

½ cup, cooked

1 ounce, dry

Popcorn 3 cups, popped
Quinoa ½ cup, cooked
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal

1 cup, flakes or rounds

1¼ cup, puffed


½ cup, cooked

1 ounce, dry


1 small flour tortilla (6" diameter)

1 corn tortilla (6" diameter)

Why is it important to eat grains, especially whole grains?

Eating grains, especially whole grains, can provide health benefits. People who regularly eat grains that are low in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats as part of an overall healthy diet may have a reduced risk of some diseases. Grains provide many nutrients that are vital for the health and maintenance of our bodies.


Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, several B vitamins, and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium).


Fiber from whole grains may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is also important for proper bowel function.


The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism – they help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system. Many refined grains are enriched with these B vitamins.


Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years have iron-deficiency anemia. They should eat foods high in heme-iron (meats) or eat other iron containing foods along with foods rich in vitamin C, which can improve absorption of non-heme iron. Fortified whole and refined grain products, including many ready-to-eat cereals, are major sources of non-heme iron in American diets.


Whole grains are sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation. It is also important for a healthy immune system.

white grain bread with stacked crackers

Health Benefits

All food and beverage choices matter.  Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.

  • Eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of getting heart disease.
  • Eating whole grain foods that have fiber, as part of an overall healthy diet, can support healthy digestion.
  • Eating whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help with weight management.
  • Eating grain products fortified with folic acid before and during pregnancy as part of an overall healthy diet helps prevent neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord.
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MyPlate.gov is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025