Whole Grains

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Whole Grains

Date: 11/28/12

Are Whole Grains Trendy or Necessary?  

Have you sampled a quinoa dish or added whole grain flour to your pantry?  Most Americans do not consume the recommended amount of whole grains. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that three or half of the six servings of grains be whole grain.

Evidence shows that consuming whole grains, in proper portions reduces the risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers and obesity. The benefits of whole grains range from the actions of fiber, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, carotenoids, polyphenols and alkylresorcinols which are mostly contained in the bran and germ of cereal grains. The phytic acid, lectins, protease inhibitors and tannins of the whole grains contribute to the low glycemic (how quickly the starch converts to simple sugar) properties of whole grain foods. Data also shows that three servings of whole grain cereals or 48 grams of whole grains does provide health benefits.

How do you get three servings or 48 grams of whole grains? Check out the food packaging and labeling. Many whole grain foods list the grams of whole grains in a serving on the box.  Then getting 48 grams is as easy as counting the numbers on the label. If counting isn’t for you, check the ingredient list and look for whole grains as the first or second ingredient on the label.

How do you overcome the texture and taste differences that whole grains offer? Start with a quick cooking whole grain like quinoa.  Rinse this grain and then cook and use as you would rice in a pilaf, casserole or soup. Next try different grain breakfast cereals like barley, wheat berries or sorghum/milo.  These grains can be cooked like oatmeal and with the additions of low fat milk, honey and fresh or dried fruit and yogurt will make a terrific breakfast to start your morning. Finally purchase a white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour and use in place of all purpose flour in baking breads and desserts.

Start a trend with your family or circle of friends to include whole grains in your meals and snacks.  It can reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases.  Bake a batch of tasty Pumpkin Cranberry Whole Grain Muffins this fall.

  -- Deborah Jones, RD, LN Director of Nutrition Services at St. Peter’s Hospital

Check out the recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Whole Grain Muffins.

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