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Toned Tuesdays: Healthy diet grains

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

 

Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet

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Find out why whole grains are better than refined grains and how to add more whole grains to your diet.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Grains, especially whole grains, are an essential part of a healthy diet. All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals. Grains are also naturally low in fat. All of this makes grains a healthy option. Better yet, they've been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.

The healthiest kinds of grains are whole grains. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of all the grains you eat are whole grains. Chances are you eat lots of grains already. But are they whole grains? If you're like most, you're not getting enough whole grains in your diet. See how to make whole grains a part of your healthy diet.

Types of grains

Also called cereals, grains and whole grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food. Grains and whole grains come in many shapes and sizes, from large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds.

  • Whole grains. These are unrefined grains that haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Whole grains are either single foods, such as brown rice and popcorn, or ingredients in products, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat in bread.
  • Refined grains. Refined grains are milled, a process that strips out both the bran and germ to give them a finer texture and extend their shelf life. The refining process also removes many nutrients, including fiber. Refined grains include white flour, white rice, white bread and degermed cornflower. Many breads, cereals, crackers, desserts and pastries are made with refined grains, too.
  • Enriched grains. Enriched means that some of the nutrients lost during processing are added back in. Some enriched grains are grains that have lost B vitamins added back in — but not the lost fiber. Fortifying means adding in nutrients that don't occur naturally in the food. Most refined grains are enriched, and many enriched grains also are fortified with other vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron. Some countries require certain refined grains to be enriched. Whole grains may or may not be fortified.

Via http://www.healthcastle.com/whole-grains.shtml

In January 2005, the US government published the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. One of the new guidelines recommends that all adults eat half their grains as whole grains – that's at least 3 servings of whole grains a day.

whole grains health benefitsIncrease whole grain intake: An easy way to increase whole grain intake is to replace some of your refined-grain products with whole grain products.

  • have a slice of whole grain bread to replace your white bread
  • have a serving of whole grain breakfast cereal in the morning
  • substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes
  • add brown rice, wild rice or barley in your vegetable soup
  • snack on popcorn instead of chips on movie nights

 

whole grains health benefitswhole grains health benefitsCheck labels carefully! Foods labelled with the words "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," "seven-grain," or "bran" are usually not whole-grain products. Color is also not an indication of a whole grain. Brown does not necessary mean whole wheat or whole grain! Some brown bread has brown coloring added to achieve the brown color!

When determining if a packaged food product contains whole grain or not, look for the word "whole" in the ingredient list. Also look for the Whole Grain Stamp (see above examples). A "good source" stamp contains at least 1/2 serving of whole grains while an "excellent source" contains at least 1 serving of whole grains.

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