Whole Grains, What’s The Deal?

There is a big difference between whole grains and refined grains and good reason to choose whole grains to better meet your dietary needs.  Whole grains are comprised of the “whole” grain including the bran, germ and the endosperm. These are important parts of the grain because the bran includes the fiber component; the germ includes the vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins and iron. Refined grains have had the germ and the bran removed, which means that these nutrients are also removed during the process1.  You might see products labeled as enriched this means that the B vitamins and iron are added back to the product however the dietary fiber is still left out.

Why should you choose whole grains?

Whole grains not only provide variety to the diet, they increase satiety and fullness and also offer vitamins, minerals, fiber as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants. Studies show that consuming whole grains can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases including the following2:

  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss

How much is enough? 

The USDA recommends that we make at least half of the grains we consume whole grains. Women ages 31-50 should include 6 ounces of grains and least 3 of these 6 ounces should be whole grains.  Men ages 31-50 should include 7 ounces of grains per day and make at least 3.5 of the 7 ounces whole.3

 

Grains to try!

  • Barley – Tossed in a cold salad
  • Brown Rice – As a healthy side dish with vegetables
  • Farro – Used in risotto and salads
  • Millet – Goes great in soups and stews and is gluten free
  • Quinoa- Very versatile in salads, soups and even as a side dish

Tips and Tricks! 1

  • Store in refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container for up to 6 months
  • Prepare for the week by cooking larger amounts and storing in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
  • Grains will be done when all water is absorbed

Sources:

1-http://www.foodandnutrition.org/September-October-2015/17-Glorious-Grains-You-Need-to-Know/

2-http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/what-are-the-health-benefits

3-http://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains

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