Whole grains are delicious and healthy

Increasing your intake of whole grains can be fun and healthy.

MyPyramid and the newer MyPlate recommend that adults get six to eleven ounces of grains in our diet daily. They advise that half of these daily servings should be whole grains. Whole grains provide far more fiber, B vitamins, and other nutrients than processed grains. A product that is whole grain is one in which the whole part of the grain is used. This includes the bran and germ which offer fiber and many nutrients. Examples include whole-‍wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. A product that uses refined grains is one in which the bran and germ have been discarded, thus, discarding nutritious fiber, iron and vitamins. Some examples of refined grains are wheat flour, enriched bread, and white rice. Most refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains.

Whole grain foods provide a balanced source of many of the nutrients our bodies need including carbohydrates, protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, B-vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants for growth, development, and metabolism. In addition, they are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that provides bulk to the foods we eat. This bulk helps us feel full faster and slows the digestion and absorption process to help with blood sugar control. Other health benefits of eating whole grains include reduced chances of some cancers, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. Eating whole grains also helps control weight gain.

Increasing your whole grains is as simple as substituting a whole-grain product for a refined-grain product. Try whole wheat pasta or brown rice in your casseroles and skillet dinners. Eat whole wheat bread instead of white bread, and make a habit of checking the amount of fiber in your morning cereals. One serving of cereal should have three to four grams of fiber, and more is even better. Also, try venturing into trying different whole grains like quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a very nutritious whole grain that can be cooked and used in casseroles and skillet dinners, or served like rice with vegetable and sauce mixtures on top. It was grown by the Aztecs and Incans, and has gained renewed interest due to its relatively nutritious grain characteristics. The next time you grocery shop, go beyond white rice and see what other whole grain options your store carries. You and your family might have fun trying delicious and different whole grains while enjoying the health benefits of these versatile foods.

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