Nutrition Week and Whole Grains

February 22, 2016
Whole Grains

On Wednesday, the Dining Commons will be featuring whole grains. So let's talk about whole grains. 

With all of the health trends these days, there are so many different opinions out there about eating grains and there is much to be said both for and against grain as part of our diet. So who is right? The answer is not so simple. Grains are divided in to two sub-groups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel while refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and germ; giving the grain a finer texture and longer shelf life but removing the dietary fiber, iron, and many of the B-vitamins found in whole grains. This is why whole grains are a superior choice to refined grains- they provide you with more benefits. 

 
The amount of grains one should consume depends on age, sex, and physical activity. Americans on average seem to consume an adequate amount of grains but the problem is that they are not consuming enough of the right kind. More than 50 percent of the grains we consume should come from whole grain sources such as whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, and brown rice. Whole grains are important sources of many nutrients. The dietary fiber from whole grains, may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes; the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism. While refined grains are reprocessed with B-vitamins and iron, whole grains are still the optimal choice. 
 
Some tips to help you eat more whole grains include:
 
Substituting a whole grain product for a refined product- such as switching whole-wheat bread instead of white
Trying whole-wheat or brown-rice pasta instead of regular
Incorporate whole-grains into mixed dishes with vegetables and protein sources
Substitute whole-wheat or oat flour for up to half the flour in baked goods such as pancakes, muffins, waffles, etc. 
Remember that popcorn is a health grain snack (try to limit butter and salt)
Snack on ready-to-eat, whole grain cereals such as toasted oat cereal
 
The important thing to remember when buying grains is to pay particular attention to food labels. You should choose foods that name a whole grain ingredient first on the label’s ingredient list (brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain (name of grain), whole wheat, stoneground whole (grain) or whole (name of grain). Foods labeled with the words multi-grain, stone-ground, semolina, wheat, or wheat flour are usually not whole-grain products, they are just trying to make you think that they are. In addition to paying attention to words and ingredients, look for products with a higher % Daily Value (% DV) of fiber. Many whole grain products are excellent sources of fiber and these are the best choices. 
 
Now that you know what to look for, start using these simple tips to incorporate the good grains into your diet and enjoy the health benefits that come along!
 

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