10 Tips to Eating Whole Grains

Whole_GrainsDo you know where grains come from or what foods are considered to be whole grains? Any food that is made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal or barley is a grain product. Foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereal, tortillas, and grits are some examples of these grain products. Grains are actually divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel known as the bran, germ, and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a nutritional and healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Additionally, whole grains are an excellent source and provide nutritional value as they contain essential enzymes, iron, dietary fiber, Vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. Our bodies absorb grains slowly and provide high-quality energy.

Here are 10 tips to eating whole grains:

1. Make simple switches – to make half your grains whole grains substitute a whole grain product for a refined grain product. For example eat 100% whole wheat bread (be mindful of the sugar content), another option is flourless breads instead of white bread or bagels or brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice.

2. Whole grains can be healthy snacks – popcorn, a whole grain can be a healthy snack. Make it with a little or no added salt or butter. Also try 100% whole wheat or rye crackers.

3. Save some time – cook extra bulgur or barley when you have time. Freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.

4. Mix it up with whole grains – use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Try a quinoa salad or pilaf.

5. Try whole wheat versions – for a change try brown rice, whole wheat pasta or gluten-free. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes and whole wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.

6. Bake whole grain goodness – experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flourless-based recipes.

7. Be a good role model for children – set a good example for children by serving and eating whole grains daily with meals or as snacks.

8. Check the label for fiber – use the nutritional facts label to check the fiber content of whole grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the daily value; excellent sources contain 20% or more.

9. Know what to look for on the ingredients list – read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole grain ingredient first on the list. Look for whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole grain, whole oats, whole rye, or wild rice.

10. Be a smart shopper – the color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole grain food. Foods labeled as multigrain, stone ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain, or bran are usually not 100% whole grain products and may not contain any whole grain.

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Mavis Kelley, CHHC, AADP is a Certified Integrative Health and Wellness Life Coach specializing in nutrition, health, well-being, fitness and lifestyle design. For more information or to schedule a breakthrough session, please contact her at: Mavis@nspirehealthyliving.net or visit her website at: http://NspireHealthyLiving.com.