Welcome to Badges: Whole Grains

Whole grains contain dietary fiber, a bit of protein, and are natural sources of nutrients, but can be high in carbs and sugar.
Whole Grains

Daily minimum for a green badge: 75 grams (about 3 ounces)

Meal minimum for a green badge: 25 grams (about 1 ounce)

Are whole grains really healthy even though they have so many carbohydrates?

Whole wheat kernels

Aside from sugar, grains are the highest-carb foods, and whole grains are no exception. A slice of whole-wheat bread has 10 grams of carbohydrates, and a half-cup of brown rice or pasta each has about 20 grams. Still, whole grains contain dietary fiber, a bit of protein, and are natural sources of nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins, manganese, iron, and copper. The lark program recognizes the benefits of whole grains, and marks them with green badges.

The most impressive parts of whole grains may be their health benefits. Studies have repeatedly suggested that peopel who eat more whole grains instead of refined grains are less likely to be obese and have a lower chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, hypertension, and other chronic conditions.

Examples of whole grains

Whole Grains

What are whole grains, and how do you find them? A whole grain is the unprocessed version of the grain. It contains the entire kernel, which has three parts. The bran is fiber-rich, the germ contains healthy fat and vitamin E, and the endosperm has starch, or carbohydrate. Refined grains are processed and contain only the starchy endosperm.

These are some whole grains and whole grain products.

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, pita, English muffins, dinner rolls, bagels, tortillas.
  • Brown rice*
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta
  • Oatmeal*
  • Unsweetened whole-grain cereal, such as shredded wheat, original Cheerios*, FIber One, puffed brown rice*
  • Bulgur, quinoa*, rye, teff*, millet*, amaranth*, whole-wheat couscous, buckwheat*
  • Whole-grain crackers, brown rice cakes*, spelt pretzels*


Tips for making the most of whole grains

Oatmeal Pancakes

Always be sure to input your food logs into your lark app!

  • A serving size is 1 ounce of bread or ½ cup of pasta, oatmeal, or cooked grain.
  • A good goal is 1 to 2 servings at 1 to 2 meals each day.
  • Most grain products have whole-grain counterparts so you can go whole without changing your lifestyle.
  • Whole-grain snacks, such as plain popcorn, whole-wheat or other whole-grain crackers, and brown rice cakes, can help you add more whole grains to your total.
  • Eating protein, healthy fat, and more fiber with your whole grain can lower the glycemic index, or impact on your blood sugar. An example is whole-wheat couscous with vegetables and braised chicken with olive oil.
  • Some additions and preparations can add calories, sugar, and fat. Examples include butter on popcorn, butter and jam on bread, and sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals and flavored oatmeal packets.
  • A product is predominantly whole grain if the first ingredient in the ingredients list includes “whole wheat” or “whole” in its name.
  • Whole grains are great additions to vegetable soups.
  • Most baked goods come out well when you swap half the white flour for whole-wheat flour.

Ideas for using whole grains

Whole-grain pasta
  • Pizza with tomato sauce spread on whole-grain pita or English muffins and topped with mozzarella or another cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and any other vegetables, and (optional) chicken.
  • Whole-wheat pasta with cooked chicken breast or shrimp and garlic, onion, and broccoli florets sauteed in olive oil, with (optional) parmesan cheese on top.
  • Mix farro or another cooked grain with artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, raw or cooked spinach, and light vinaigrette or dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice, Italian herbs, minced garlic, and black pepper. Serve on its own or over a bed of spinach or other greens.
  • Breakfast bowl with cooked barley, a soft-boiled or sliced hard-boiled egg, tomato slices, fresh fruit, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.
  • Bowl with quinoa or another whole grain cooked in water or low-sodium broth and mixed with diced cooked onion, bell pepper, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. Add to your bowl ½ cup low-sodium black beans, ½ cup fresh pineapple or other fruit, and ½ ounce (2 tablespoons) sliced almonds or other nuts.
  • Oatmeal with milk, water, or soy or almond milk, then turn it into banana nut oatmeal with sliced bananas and pecans, or into pumpkin pie oatmeal with canned pumpkin, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, and flaxseed.