Be Heart Healthy with Whole Grains

slices of bread topped with various fruit and vegetable toppings

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? For the month of February, we will be highlighting the different food groups in MyPlate and how you and your family can easily incorporate them into a heart healthy diet!

Focus on Grains

To start off the month, we’re focusing on the grains group. The grain group consists of refined and whole grains. However, it's important to note that not all grains are created equal. Refined grains are grains that have been processed to remove the outer layers of bran and germ, which removes a lot of nutrients, like iron, B vitamins, and dietary fiber! Though enriched refined grains have vitamins and minerals added back in, they can still lack fiber. In order to better meet your daily intake recommendations for grains from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, try making whole grains the easy choice and limit refined grains when possible. 


Are You Getting Enough Whole Grains?

The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains, especially fiber-rich whole gains. Fiber is important for heart health as it can help lower risks of heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce risks of stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber can also help to satisfy hunger and keep you full for longer, helping you to maintain a healthy weight.

Common examples of whole grains foods include whole grain breads, ready-to-eat cereals, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, brown and wild rice, whole grain tortillas, barley, and air-popped popcorn. Whole grain foods can also contain iron, which help to transport oxygen in the blood, and B vitamins, which help to maintain metabolism.

To celebrate American Heart Month and every month, try incorporating more whole grains into your weekly meals.

  • Change up breakfast by switching your cereal with added sugar to oatmeal topped with frozen berries and honey.
  • Mix up your lunchtime sandwich routine by swapping out white bread with some whole wheat tortillas or pita pockets to pair perfectly with lean deli meats, cheese, arugula, cucumbers, and tomato. 
  • Step up dinner by making simple side substitutions, like serving wild rice instead of white rice to parter with your beef and broccoli or salmon and green beans.

Small changes like these can help to improve your overall dietary pattern and may help to improve your heart health!


Whole grains, in addition to being delicious, are an important source of carbohydrates for energy, B vitamins, iron, and fiber. For more information about the grains group and recipe ideas visit MyPlate's website.