Monday, May 14, 2018

Why and How to Eat Whole Grains

Grains are kind of a hot topic in the nutrition world - especially when such a large portion of the population has some kind of intolerance to gluten. But for those who don’t have an allergy or intolerance to gluten, whole grains can provide a lot of nutritional benefits. Even people who do need a gluten-free diet can find whole grains that accommodate their dietary requirements.

Many claims against eating grains are simply not true. Some common things you might have heard are “people are not biologically adapted to eat grains,” “whole grains make us fat,” “wheat products aren’t healthy”, and the list goes on.

Grains have been consumed by people for more than 100,000 years - and that’s just according to the earliest record of grain consumption. And anything not consumed in moderation can contribute to weight gain and feeling unhealthy.

So, what are grains and whole grains?
A grain is a food group that covers a wide variety of crops - such as wheat, corn, soybeans, oats, barley, and more. In order to consume grains, these crops are harvested and processed into the common products we pick up in the grocery store, like bread, flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, etc.

A grain kernel consists of three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Each part carries different nutritional benefits.

A whole grain is a grain that has not been refined - meaning it retains all three parts when it is processed. Refined grains (like all-purpose flour and white breads) don’t have all three parts of the grain, instead they are refined to contain only the endosperm, which significantly reduces the nutritional value of the grain.

Nutritional benefits of whole grains:
- More minerals and vitamins are contained in whole wheat products, such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, and calcium.
- Whole grains contain more protein.
- Whole grains contain more fiber, which helps control blood sugar and contributes to lower cholesterol.
- The fiber in whole grains also helps provide a feeling a fullness which helps the consumer to eat less.
- Whole grains contain essential B vitamins that contribute to a good metabolism - helping the body release energy from protein and fat.

How to incorporate whole grains into your diet
The first thing you’ll need to do to include whole grains into your diet is know what whole grains are and be able to recognize them at the grocery store. Labels on bread products that include “whole grain” or “whole wheat” are a pretty good place to start.

Here are some common whole grains that you can find at the grocery store (some of which you might already be consuming):

- Whole wheat flour
- Popcorn
- Brown rice
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Millet
- Quinoa
- Sorghum
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Wild rice
- Whole-grain barley

That should be a good little list to get you started on adding whole grains into your diet.

The recommended amount of whole grains to consume per day (if not restricted by health problems) is 3 ounces. One ounce of grain is equivalent to a slice of bread or ½ cup of rice or pasta.

If you plan one serving of a whole grain with each meal, then you can reach that recommendation easily. For example, you could have a piece of whole wheat toast with breakfast, rice with lunch, and a whole wheat roll with dinner. Or maybe you have a small bowl of whole grain cereal for breakfast and a sandwich on whole wheat bread for lunch. The possibilities are endless, you just need to determine what you like.

If you like baking your own bread or making your own pasta, make sure to add whole wheat, or another whole grain, to your grain storage supply.

1 comment :

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