Food In Focus: 10 Simple Tips for Eating Whole Grains!

Most all of us know that whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet, but how practical is it to make this adjustment in our nutrition? It’s easier than you think!

 

 

 Let’s start with the facts. The Whole Grains Council, a non-profit consumer advocacy group working to increase consumption of whole grains for better health, gives a definition that whole grains or foods made from them must contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed in order to be considered whole grain. 

 In addition, according to the US Department of Agriculture, any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples. All grains are divided into two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm.

 It’s been proven that people who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Which is great news for those of us who want to live full & vibrant lives, right? The WGC shows us that some of the benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:

  • Stroke risk reduced 30-36%.

  • Type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%.

  • Heart disease risk reduced 25-28%.

  • Better weight maintenance.

Other benefits indicated by these recent studies include:

  • Reduced risk of asthma.

  • Healthier carotid arteries.

  • Reduction of inflammatory disease risk.

  • Lower risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Healthier blood pressure levels.

  • Less gum disease and tooth loss.

 

 Ok, ok, so now that you get the importance of whole grains, check out our 10 tips supported by the USDA for incorporating whole grains in your healthy diet each day. Learn em, and live em!

 

10 Simple Tips for Eating Whole Grains:

  1. Make simple switches. In order to make half your grains whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined-grain product. For example, eat 100% whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels, or brown rice instead of white rice.

  2. Whole grains can be healthy snacks! Popcorn, which is a whole grain, can be a healthy snack for your healthy diet! Wow, who knew?! Make it with little or no added salt or butter. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.

  3. Save yourself some time. Our lives are always going 200 mph each day, so pursuing health while saving time is a huge plus! Cook extra rice or barley when you have time. You can freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.

  4. Mix it up with whole grains. Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Also, try a quinoa salad or pilaf.

  5. Try whole-wheat versions. For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes, and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese. Remember, small changes in our nutrition can have huge effects in our lives!

  6. Bake up some whole-grain goodness. Experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes. (Note: They may need a bit more leavening in order to rise.)

  7. Parents, be a good role model for your children! Set a good example for your children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals, or as snacks!

  8. Check the label for fiber. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; Excellent sources contain 20% or more.

  9. Know what to look for on the ingredients list! Read the ingredients list, and choose products that name a whole- grain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” “whole rye,” or “wild rice.”

  10. Be a smart shopper! The color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole-grain food! Foods labeled as “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole grain.

“Whole grains are essential to my personal nutrition, and Tasty25 Magazine is excited to bring you 10 tips to help you become more mindful of this essential area of healthy eating. Learn them, live them, and Happy Cooking!” – David Jones II, Editor

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