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Nutrition News: Whole Grains to Your Health

Charlyn Fargo on

Whole Grains to Your Health

September is National Whole Grains month, a time to celebrate the nutrition that eating whole grains -- over refined grains -- has to offer.

But what exactly is a whole grain? A whole grain contains three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm (refined grains only contain the endosperm). The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing and your hair shiny. Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, constipation and some cancers.

Here are some examples of whole-grain foods: barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, amaranth and teff, as well as whole grain pastas, breads and cereals. When reading food labels, look for the words "whole grain" in the ingredient list. Don't be fooled by colors. Being brown doesn't make bread whole-wheat, and a white bread may not be made with just refined white flour.

Finding whole-grain bread takes some label-reading skills. A bread that's labeled "whole wheat" must be made with 100% whole-wheat flour, which is guaranteed to have fiber and be a whole grain. However, bread labels that advertise "seven grain" or "multigrain" are not necessarily whole-grain products. Check the ingredients to make sure whole-wheat flour or some other grain is listed as the first ingredient. Choose loaves made mostly with whole-wheat or another whole-grain flour.

While you may know adding more whole grains to family meals is a smart move, getting your family to suddenly love brown rice over white rice can be challenging. Start by partnering whole grains with vegetables, like a stir-fry over brown rice or a whole-wheat pita stuffed with chicken salad. You can add oatmeal to a meatloaf or toss cooked quinoa into a salad.

 

Here are some ideas to get started from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

--Start with breakfast. Choose a fiber-rich, whole-grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal or whole-wheat toast.

--Choose whole grains over refined items when selecting breads, buns, bagels, tortillas, pastas and other grain products.

--Experiment with different grains such as buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, sorghum, whole rye or barley. To save time, cook extra bulgur or barley and freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.

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