Have you heard that whole grain foods may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer? What exactly are whole grains? With an entire wall of the grocery store devoted to bread, how can you even tell which ones are whole grains?
The darker the bread does not always indicate that it is whole grain. Sometimes, bread is darker in color because of the addition of molasses, caramel coloring or cocoa powder. On average, Americans consume only one serving of whole grains a day, compared to the recommended, three servings a day. Whole grain foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. They also typically have a lower glycemic index, meaning, they get broken down into sugar slowly.
What Are Whole Grains?
Whole grains are foods that contain all three components of the grain:
*Bran: The outer layer- rich in fiber
*Endosperm: Middle part- starch
*Germ: The center part, rich in vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals.
When grains are refined, the bran and germ portions are removed, and the endosperm is the only part that is left. Twenty-five to 90 percent of the nutrients are lost. Most refined grains are enriched with some of the nutrients lost.
Which Foods Are Whole Grain?
*Brown or wild rice
*Cracked wheat- a.k.a. bulgur
*Whole grain corn or cornmeal
Eating a variety of whole grain foods helps to ensure the nutritional benefits of the entire grain.
What to Look For on Labels?
Look at the ingredients list on labels and choose foods that name a whole grain ingredient first. Ingredients on labels are listed in order of quantity.
Tips On How To Get Them In
*Try whole grain cereal at breakfast
*Try whole-wheat pasta or cous-cous
*Try wild or brown rice instead of white
*Make a snack mix of whole grain ready-to-eat cereal and dried fruit
*Choose whole grain breads, tortillas and crackers
*Add a whole grain to soups such as barley
*Snack on low-fat popcorn instead of pretzels
Whole Grain Serving Sizes
*½ cup cooked cereal or 1 oz ready-to-eat cereal
*1 slice bread or 1 oz
*½ cup cooked rice or pasta
*1 6-inch tortilla
Whole Grain Recipe To Try This Month
Bean-Wah Salad (http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org)
(yields 4 servings)
*1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
*¼ c quinoa
*Juice of 1 small lemon
*2 Tbsp olive oil
*2 tbsp cilantro or parsley chopped
*2 stalks green onion chopped
*1 tsp minced garlic
*1 tsp cumin
*1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
*1 tomato seeded and diced
*1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1. Cooked quinoa in broth until liquid is absorbed
2. In a large bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil, parsley or cilantro, scallions, garlic, cumin
3. Add drained and rinsed beans, chopped tomatoes and corn to bowl.
4. When quinoa is fully cooked and has cooled a bit, add it to the salad and mix everything thoroughly. Best refrigerated for at least 1 hour.
*Can use bulgur or another grain instead of quinoa