Why eat whole grains? Whole grains are packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals and minerals. Diets rich in whole grains have been shown to decrease our risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some cancers.
What are whole grains? Whole grains contain the endosperm, germ and bran. While processed refined grains only contain the endosperm. Missing out on the germ and bran mean we are missing out on antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
How do I identify whole grains? Look for words like 100% whole grain or whole wheat. Some items will say they contain whole grains, however, may contain very little whole grains. Check the first ingredient on the label, it should say whole grain/wheat (Not enriched wheat flour). Keep in mind if a food says “7-grain”, “high fiber”, or “multi-grain” it doesn’t guarantee it is whole grain. You may also look for the whole grain stamp. It is not required but is on many whole grain foods and can help identify which foods are whole grain.
THE GOAL: Make at least half your grains whole grains
This week make at least half the grains you eat every day whole grain! Check your bread, pitas, wraps, bagels, breakfast cereals and switch to whole grain versions! Look for 100% whole wheat.
Tips to Consider:
1. Make half your grains whole grains every day this week.
2. Try a new whole grain you have never tried before. (Examples: Quinoa, Wild Rice, Bulgur, Buckwheat, Amaranth).
3. Consider starting your day with a whole grain (such as oatmeal).
4. Snack on whole grains, such as popcorn or whole wheat crackers.
5. Make one new recipe with whole grains you have never made before. Whole grain ideas for every meal. Small swaps can help you reach your goal!
Breakfast: Whole wheat bagels, Whole wheat waffles, Buckwheat pancakes, Whole grain ready to eat cereals or Oatmeal.
Lunch: Whole grain wraps, Whole wheat pitas, Whole wheat breads
Dinner: Brown rice, Wild rice, Quinoa, Whole wheat pasta, Whole grain corn bread, Whole grain tortillas
You can visit https://wholegrainscouncil.org/ for more information on identifying whole grains, health benefits of whole grains, and cooking whole grains (with lots more recipes!).
Our thanks to Franciscan Dietician Kristal Twardy, RDN, CD, for writing this blog.