How to eat whole grains for health

Published: 19 September 2018

With the popularity of low-carb diets on the rise, you may be more confused than ever. Can whole grains still be eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet?

How to eat whole grains for health

The short answer is, ‘yes’, so we’ve made it easy for you to choose the best grains with our six top tips.

Why are whole grains good for you?

We love whole grains because eating them lowers your risk of heart disease by up to 30%. Refined grains (like white bread, pasta and crackers) contain fewer nutrients and less fibre. Unrefined whole grains, as they are found in nature, are best for our bodies. You’ll find plenty of examples below.

How to eat more whole grains

Eating whole grains in place of refined grains doesn’t have to be hard work. Lots of whole grains are tasty and affordable. We think the best changes are ones that you barely notice! Follow these simple tips to help you eat more whole grains.

1. Choose intact whole grains where possible

Intact whole grains are unrefined and close to how they’re found in nature. They have more nutrients and are less likely to contain added sugar, saturated fat and sodium.

Examples of intact whole grains include:

  • Whole oats
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat

In New Zealand, we get most of our whole grains from bread and breakfast cereals and so when choosing these foods, we would really benefit from intact whole grains where possible.

How to eat whole grains for health

2. Make simple swaps

Look at ways to make simple, affordable swaps from refined grains to intact whole grains and whole grain products.

  • Rice bubbles to oats
  • White bread to whole grain bread
  • White rice to brown rice, barley or quinoa
  • Water crackers to whole grain crackers
  • White flour to whole grain flours such as wholemeal flour
  • White bread roll to a multigrain bread roll
  • White pasta to wholemeal pasta

Remember, we’d all benefit from eating more vegetables so you could also consider swapping refined grains like white bread and pasta to vegetables too. A good example is using lettuce cups instead of white bread wraps next time you’re making burritos.

3. Base at least one meal a day around a whole grain

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Breakfast: porridge, Bircher muesli or toasted whole grain bread
  • Lunch: wholemeal salad wrap or soup with a whole grain bread roll
  • Snacks: whole grain crackers with hummus
  • Dinner: stir-fry with buckwheat noodles, add barley to soups, casseroles or risotto, make salads with different grains like brown rice, wholemeal pasta or quinoa.

How to eat whole grains for health

4. Bake up some whole grain goodness

Fancy a bit of weekend baking? Look for recipes that use whole grains like oats, buckwheat, millet, bran or wholemeal flour.

Here are some tasty ideas:

5. Cook extra whole grains to save time later

Have a go at cooking with whole grains that you may not be used to.

Most intact whole grains like brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, quinoa and millet are cooked by placing in water, bringing to the boil and simmering until the liquid is absorbed. Cooking times will vary, so follow the instructions on the back of the packet.

If you’re cooking whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice or bulgur wheat, cook extra and then freeze half. You can then serve them later as a quick side dish or base for your next meal.

6. Know what to look for when shopping for whole grains

Food labels can be overwhelming! Some whole grain products (like crackers and breakfast cereals) can have lots of sugar, salt and saturated fat – the closer the product is to the original grain (like oats), the better.

Use these tips to help you choose the best whole grain products for your heart health and body.

  • Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole grain ingredient first or near the beginning of the list. Look for these words:
    • whole wheat
    • whole grain [name of grain]
    • stoneground whole [grain]
    • wholemeal
    • oats
    • oatmeal
    • bran
    • kibbled wheat
    • barley
    • rye
    • buckwheat
    • quinoa.
  • Read the nutrition information panel and look for products that contain the MOST amount of fibre per 100 grams.
  • Look for products with whole grains that you can actually see e.g. visible chunks of the grain rather than the grain being ground or crushed.
  • Remember that foods labelled as ‘multi-grain’, ‘stone-ground’, ‘100% wheat’, ‘cracked wheat’, or ‘organic flour’ may not contain any whole grain.

The bottom line?

Whole grains are a nutritious food, but there is no single food that improves our heart health – it is our overall diet. Whole grains are best eaten in place of refined grains with plenty of vegetables and fruit alongside legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils), nuts, seeds, oily fish and reduced-fat dairy.

How to eat whole grains for health

Lily Henderson, NZRD

National Nutrition Advisor

I am passionate about improving the health of all Kiwis from young through to old. I have enjoyed working in nutrition in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Published December 1, 2020

Reviewed January 2021

How to eat whole grains for health

Anna_Shepulova/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Adding more whole grains to your family’s meals is a smart move. Not only do they provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed to keep your family healthy but whole grains also contain dietary fiber, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and other health problems, such as constipation.

Grains are divided into two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making half of the grains you eat whole, so choose whole grains instead of refined-grain products whenever possible.

How to Find Whole Grains

Don’t be fooled by colors. Being brown doesn’t make bread whole-wheat and being white may not mean that bread is made with just refined white flour. Finding whole-grain bread takes some label reading skills. Any bread labeled “whole wheat” must be made with 100% whole-wheat flour.

Also, did you know that even if bread labels advertise “seven grain” or “multigrain,” they are not necessarily whole-grain products? Check the ingredients list to make sure whole-wheat flour or some other whole grain is listed as the first ingredient and find loaves made mostly with whole-wheat or another whole-grain flour.

Add Whole Grains to Your Meals

Want to add more whole grains to your meals? Change your cooking style to include more whole grains and boost the dietary fiber content of meals. Partner whole grains with vegetables — brown rice and vegetable stir-fry or a whole-wheat pita stuffed with salad. Or fortify mixed dishes with high-fiber ingredients — add bran or oatmeal to meat loaf or toss cooked quinoa or wheat berries into a salad.

Looking for other ways to make half your family’s grains whole?

  • Start with breakfast. Choose a fiber-rich, whole-grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal or whole-wheat toast. Check the grams of dietary fiber per serving; more fiber will keep you feeling full longer.
  • Choose whole grains over refined items when selecting breads, buns, bagels, tortillas, pastas and other grains.
  • Experiment with different grains such as buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, sorghum, whole rye or barley. To save time, cook extra bulgur or barley and freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.
  • Enjoy whole grains as a snack. Popcorn is considered a whole-grain and three cups of air-popped popcorn contain 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and only 95 calories. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.

How to eat whole grains for health

How to eat whole grains for healthHow to eat whole grains for healthHow to eat whole grains for healthHow to eat whole grains for health

Whole grain foods are an important part of healthy eating.

On this page

  • Whole grain foods are good for you
  • Choosing and preparing healthy whole grain foods
  • Snack ideas
  • How to include whole grain foods

Whole grain foods are good for you

Whole grain foods have important nutrients such as:

  • fibre
  • vitamins
  • minerals

Whole grain foods are a healthier choice than refined grains because whole grain foods include all parts of the grain. Refined grains have some parts of the grain removed during processing.

Whole grain foods have more fibre than refined grains. Eating foods higher in fibre can help lower your risk of:

  • stroke
  • colon cancer
  • heart disease
  • type 2 diabetes

Choosing and preparing healthy whole grain foods

Enjoy a variety of whole grain foods every day, such as:

  • quinoa
  • whole grain pasta
  • whole grain bread
  • whole oats or oatmeal
  • whole grain brown or wild rice

Some grain foods can have a lot of added sodium, sugars or saturated fat. These include foods like:

  • bakery products
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • pre-packaged frozen pasta dishes

Use food labels to choose foods that have less sodium, sugars or saturated fat.

Make sure your choices are actually whole grain

Whole wheat and multi-grain foods may not be whole grain. Some foods may look like they are whole grain because of their colour, but they may not be.

Read the ingredient list and choose foods that have the words “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain as one of the first ingredients like:

  • whole grain oats
  • whole grain wheat

Whole wheat foods are not whole grain, but can still be a healthy choice as they contain fibre.

Fibre

Use the nutrition facts table to compare the amount of fibre between products. Look at the % daily value to choose those with more fibre.

Preparing whole grain foods

Whole grain foods can be tasty and nutritious without adding highly processed sauces and spreads. Enjoy the true taste of whole grain foods.

Try healthier ways to prepare your whole grain foods by:

  • leaving out or reducing the amount of salt added during preparation
  • limiting the amount of sauce or spreads you add
  • adding vegetables, vegetable oils, spices and herbs to enhance flavours

Snack ideas

Whole grain foods make quick and healthy snacks. There are lots of choices and many ways to enjoy them. Try:

  • whole grain cereals
  • whole grain crackers
  • whole grain baked pita “chips”

How to include whole grain foods

Here are some easy ways to eat more whole grain foods:

  • Try a new whole grain each week:
    • farro
    • freekeh
    • amaranth
    • buckwheat
  • Mix different whole grain cereals in your bowl and enjoy with lower fat white milk or unsweetened plant-based beverages.
  • Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, whole grain cereal or whole grain toast.
  • Keep a variety of whole grain foods in your pantry. Try:
    • oats
    • quinoa
    • brown rice
    • whole grain pasta
    • whole grain bread

To increase the amount of whole grain foods in your recipes, try adding:

  • barley, bulgur and quinoa to soups, salads and stir-fries
  • brown or wild rice to white rice for more fibre and a nutty flavour

Make a healthy choice

What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.

  • Choose foods that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat.
  • Compare the nutrition facts table on foods to choose products that are lower in sodium, sugars or saturated fat.

Are you eating enough whole grains? Chances are you may not be—MyPlate, the most recent nutrition guide released by the USDA, recommends six 1-ounce servings of grains each day. Most importantly, at least half of these servings need to be whole grains. Prized as the ultimate nutrition package, whole grains taste absolutely delicious when mixed into salads, soups, breads, and more. If you think that consuming grains means a carb-overload, worry not. Whole grains fall into the “good” carb category along with fruits, veggies, and legumes.

An archeological finding from the University of Calgary evidenced that humans have relied on grain as a staple crop for least 100,000 years. Today, staple crops such as rice, wheat, and corn feed the majority of our planet. Yes, whole grains make the world go round, but how much do you actually know about them? Our comprehensive guide answers all your questions, and shows you just how easy it is to work more whole grains into your diet.

How to eat whole grains for health

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The easiest way to work more whole grains into your diet is by letting us customize your meal plans! Subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today and start receiving your curated menus.

What are Whole Grains?

Grains are the edible seeds of plants. A grain is a “whole grain” if it contains the three key parts of a seed: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains fall into one of two categories, cereals and pseudocereals. Cereal grains come from cereal grasses such as wheat, oats, rice, corn, barley, sorghum, rye, and millet. Pseudocereal grains are cooked and consumed in a similar manner, but they do not come from grasses—grains in this category include quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth.

In effect, all grains start as whole grains, but they don’t all end up on the shelf as such. Key parts of the seeds are stripped away during milling, a manufacturing process that increases the shelf life of products such as flour. Unfortunately, most of the essential nutrients are lost in this process. Consuming whole grains is the only way that you can be 100% sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck nutritionally.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

Whole grains abound with heart-healthy soluble fiber that controls appetite while regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet rich in whole grains significantly decreased the risk for heart disease. Whole grains also pack a wealth of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting benefits. In terms of how much of your diet should consist of whole grains, MyPlate recommends that at least half of all grains consumed daily should be whole grains. Ideally, if you’re consuming six 1-ounce servings of grains each day, three of these servings will be whole grains. MyPlate offers several common one-ounce equivalents as a resource. For example, one slice of whole wheat bread would count as one 1-ounce serving.

Are Whole Grains Gluten-Free?

Absolutely—there are plenty of fantastic gluten-free grains out there, such as brown rice, quinoa, corn, and more. Grains to avoid are wheat (such as wheat berries, spelt, kamut, farro, and bulgur), rye, barley, and triticale. Oats are technically gluten-free, but they carry a higher possibility of cross-contamination during manufacturing. To be safe, choose gluten-free oats such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats.

How to eat whole grains for health

Breads, cereals and pastas are comfort foods for some and enjoyed by many – despite the fuss over carbs and gluten. Whole grains are one of the features of the American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations for heart health. And you can find a better-for-you choice if you know what to look for.

First, the basics. There are two types of grain products:

  1. Whole grains contain the entire grain – which is made up of bran, germ and endosperm.

  • Refined grains have been milled (ground into flour or meal) in a way that removes the bran and germ. This gives them a finer texture and improves their shelf life but strips the grain of important nutrients you need, including B-vitamins, iron and dietary fiber. Examples include white and wheat flours, enriched breads, and white rice. Now, refined grains are often enriched, which means some of the B vitamins and iron are added back in after processing. While that’s good, fiber might not be added back.
  • So when it comes to your health, choose whole grains and other foods made up of mostly whole grains. Here’s why:

    • Many whole grains are good sources of dietary fiber, which we all need. Most refined grains contain little or no fiber.
    • Dietary fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes. Fiber for the win!
    • And here’s an awesome bonus if you’re trying to lose weight: fiber can help you feel full, so you’ll be satisfied with fewer calories.
    • In addition to fiber, grains provide nutrients like thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), folate (Vitamin B9), iron, magnesium and selenium. These are all important for a variety of body functions such as forming new cells, carrying oxygen in the blood, regulating the thyroid, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Pretty important stuff!

    Shopping Tip: When you’re planning meals and snacks for the week, it’s important to include a variety of grains because they can differ in their nutrient content.

    How to Identify Whole Grains

    Do you think you can identify whole grains by color? Think again. Bread, for example, can be brown because of molasses or other ingredients, not necessarily because it contains whole grains. This is why it’s so important to get into the habit of reading nutrition labels. For most whole grain products you’ll see the words “whole” or “whole grain” first on the ingredient list.

    Here are some common whole grain foods:

    • Whole wheat, oats, corn, barley, farro
    • Graham flour
    • Oatmeal, rolled or steel cut
    • Brown rice
    • Wild rice
    • Popcorn
    • Quinoa

    Are You Getting Enough?

    The AHA recommends choosing whole grains and products that contain at least 51% whole versus refined grains.

    Here are some examples of a serving of whole grains:

    • 1 slice whole-grain bread (such as 100% whole-wheat bread)
    • 1 cup ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal
    • 1⁄2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal (like oatmeal), brown rice or whole-wheat pasta
    • 5 whole-grain crackers
    • 3 cups unsalted, air-popped popcorn
    • 1 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla

    Also, try to get your fiber from foods rather than supplements. When you incorporate whole instead of refined grains as part of an overall healthy eating pattern.

    Health experts advise everyone – men and women, young and old – that grains are a healthy necessity in every diet, and that it’s important to eat at least half our grains as “whole grains.”

    But what IS a whole grain? And why does it matter?

    Whole Grains

    Whole grains include grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, rye – when these foods are eaten in their “whole” form (more on that later). Whole grains even include popcorn!

    You may already be eating whole grains. When you munch popcorn in the theater, or give Toasty-O’s to your toddler, or enjoy a bowl of hot oatmeal, you’re probably focusing more on the delicious taste than on the fact that these foods are whole grains.

    Antioxidants, Vitamins and Minerals

    Consumers are increasingly aware that fruits and vegetables contain disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants, but they do not realize whole grains are often an even better source of these key nutrients.

    Moreover, whole grains have some valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables, as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber.

    Health Benefits of Whole Grains

    The medical evidence is clear that whole grains reduce risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Few foods can offer such diverse benefits.

    People who regularly eat whole grains have a lower risk of many chronic diseases. Replacing refined grains with whole grains is can significantly improve total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood sugar control) and C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation). Systematic reviews have found that “higher intakes of whole grains were associated with a 13–33% reduction in the risk for all critical outcomes,” including all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. For more details, browse our health studies database or download our 2017 Research Summary Report.

    Help is On the Way

    Even consumers who are aware of the health benefits of whole grains are often unsure how to find them and prepare them. The programs of the Whole Grains Council will help you:

    With the popularity of low-carb diets, you may be more confused than ever. Can whole grains still be eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet? The short answer is ‘yes’ and we’ve made it easy to help you choose the best grains.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Why are whole grains good for your heart?

    Heart Foundation research on whole grains has shown that eating whole grain foods can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 30% 1,2 .

    When whole grains are eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet, they can help to reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure and help manage your weight too 1 .

    When selecting grain foods, it’s the quality of the carbohydrate that is most important. Refined grains (like white bread, pasta, and crackers) contain fewer nutrients and less fibre. Unrefined whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa and oats) contain a wide range of nutrients including fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are good for our hearts.

    How to eat more whole grains

    Eating whole grains in place of refined grains doesn’t have to be hard work. Here are five tips to help you get the goodness of whole grains into your day.

    1. Choose intact whole grains where possible

    Intact whole grains are unrefined and close to how they’re found in nature. They have more nutrients and are less likely to contain added sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Examples include oats, barley, freekeh, farro, bulgur wheat, brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.

    2. Make simple swaps

    Look at ways to make simple swaps from refined grains to intact whole grains and whole grain products.

    • White rice to brown rice, barley or quinoa.
    • Couscous to bulgur wheat, farro or freekeh.
    • White bread, wraps, or pita to whole grain versions.
    • Water crackers to whole grain crackers.
    • White flour to whole grain flours such as wholemeal or spelt flour.

    3. Base at least one meal a day around a whole grain

    Here are some ideas to get you started.

    • Breakfast: porridge, Bircher muesli or toasted whole grain bread.
    • Lunch: bulgur wheat salad, stuffed wholemeal pita bread.
    • Snacks: whole grain crackers with hummus.
    • Dinner: stir-fry with brown rice; salads with different grains like brown rice, freekeh, farro or quinoa; add barley to soups, casseroles, or risotto.

    4. Bake up some whole grain goodness

    Fancy a bit of weekend baking? Look for recipes that use whole grain ingredients like oats, buckwheat, millet, bran or wholemeal flour or have a go at using half and half.

    5. Cook extra whole grains to save time later

    Most intact whole grains like brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, quinoa and millet are cooked by placing in water, bringing to the boil and simmering until the liquid is absorbed. Cooking times will vary, so follow the instructions on the back of the packet.

    Cook extra and then freeze half. You can then serve them later as a quick side dish or base for your next meal.

    The bottom line?

    Whole grains are not only a nutritious food but add variety to many dishes. It is important to remember, however, that there is no single food that improves our heart health – it is our overall diet. Whole grains are best eaten in place of refined grains with plenty of vegetables and fruit alongside legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils), nuts, seeds, oily fish and dairy 3 .

    References:

    1. Heart Foundation Whole grains and the Heart Evidence paper, 2018
    2. Reynolds et al (2019) Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses
    3. Heart Foundation Dietary patterns and the Heart Evidence paper, 2013

    *Want to eat more heart healthy meals? Check out our My Choice Bag featuring heart healthy recipes to choose each week.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Meet the Nutritionist

    Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?

    Grain products, including whole grains, are best known for providing valuable fiber in the diet. Whole grains may help in weight loss and decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Grains come from cereal, bread, pasta, or rice. Eating whole grains is not a new way to eat, but a change to what you are used to. Making the change is not as hard as you may think. Here is an overview of how to get you and your family on the road to a healthier diet.

    Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel. You may have heard of bran and (wheat) germ. They are parts of the whole grain.

    Whole grains are available in a variety of foods such as pasta, cereal, breads, and crackers. They are best known for their fiber content, but they also supply important nutrients and are low in fat. In fact, whole grains are associated with many health benefits such as lower cholesterol, weight control, and prevention of illnesses like diabetes. Whole grains fill you up faster and take longer to digest.

    Many of the grain products that we eat are made from refined flour. This means the grain is processed to a point where some or all the nutritional value is gone. Sometimes nutrients are added back into the product but they are not as healthful as an unprocessed whole grain. This means we get the calories without gaining nutritional benefit.

    You already eat foods made from grains, making your diet rich in whole grains will only require some fine tuning.

    The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends making at least half the grains you eat whole grains.

    When you think about all the cereals, breads, or pastas that you and your family eat each day, you can see how many chances you have to introduce whole wheat to your diet. It may be easier to start with breakfast since this meal tends to have the largest servings of grain products.

    The taste, texture, and feel of whole grain products may seem different than what you are used to. Experiment with different types of whole grain products. If whole wheat bread doesn’t work for you, try whole grain pastas or snacks. There are many different products available to help you sneak whole wheat in to your diet without a lot of sacrifice. But, beware, not all whole grain products are created equal.

    Take time to read and understand nutrition labels. Sometimes labels can be tricky. True whole grain products will be made of 100% whole grain. These may include some of the following examples:

    • Whole wheat
    • Oatmeal
    • Quinoa
    • Whole grain or brown rice
    • Popcorn
    • Whole rye
    • Whole grain barley

    Be careful of words like wheat, stoned wheat, enriched wheat, or seven grain. They may not be whole grains. Color can also be deceiving. Brown color can be just a dye or brown sugar and white products may have some whole grains.

    Gradually replace the refined grains you eat with whole grains. Before you know it, you will be eating whole grains all the time. Your final goal should be to have at least half the grains you eat be whole grains.

    Resources:

    Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture

    Reviewed by Dietitian Jessica Ball, M.S., RD April 13, 2021

    Unless you’re eating wheat straight from the field, it’s hard to know whether the foods you buy actually contain whole grains. Plus, what are whole grains to begin with? Labels can make it even more confusing for packaged foods, but not all terms are synonymous with “whole grain”. We break down what you need to know and how to make sure you’re getting a healthy dose. (For more on cooking, check out our Whole Grain Cooking Guide).

    What Are Whole Grains?

    All grains start out whole. Underneath an inedible shell, the seed or kernel of the plant is made up of three parts—the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran and germ contain fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, protein and healthy fats, as well as minerals including folate and iron. The “meat” of the grain, the endosperm, serves as energy for the plant in the form of starchy carbohydrates. The mix of nutrients in these layers is what makes whole grains powerhouses of disease prevention, with greater intake linked to a lower risk of diabetes, some cancers and heart disease, as well as a healthy GI tract.

    Whole grains can be consumed as is, of course (think: brown rice, farro, oats and popcorn—yes, popcorn is a whole grain), but often they’re incorporated into foods, such as breakfast cereals and bread. And that’s where it can get confusing, says researcher Yanni Papanikolaou, M.P.H., president of Nutritional Strategies, a consulting firm for the food industry.

    How to Know if Packaged Foods Have Whole Grains

    Items like frozen waffles or crackers are considered to be “whole” when the bran, germ and endosperm are all present, says Kelly Toups, M.L.A., RD, LDN, director of nutrition at Oldways Whole Grains Council. “Refined” grains, on the other hand, are missing one or more of those three parts. (Many, like white flour, only contain the starchy endosperm.) “Enriched” grains are usually just refined grains with a few nutrients like iron added back in. And that’s important, seeing as refined grains haven’t been shown to have the same health benefits as whole—and may even have the opposite effect.

    Product names and claims like “multigrain,” “wheat” or “7 grain” can make you think a product contains whole grains, when many actually don’t. In a 2020 study published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers asked more than 1,000 participants to try to decipher which bread, cereal and cracker options they were shown had more whole grains. Nearly half believed the mostly refined products had more whole grains than they did.

    While some information on the package (like the Whole Grain Stamp) can be helpful, the ingredients list is your best bet to find whole grains. “Look for products where whole grains are listed as one of the top two ingredients, paying special attention to the word ‘whole’ or ‘whole grain’ before the grain’s name,” advises Toups. And scan what comes after it too. Ingredients are listed from most to least, but companies can diversify where less-healthful things like added sugars come from so that whole grains appear toward the top of the list. Still in doubt? Check the Nutrition Facts panel and select a product where the fiber-to-carbohydrates ratio is more than 1-to-10 (that is, at least 1 gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbs).

    Guide to Reading Labels

    Here are some common terms on labels and what they mean related to whole grains.

    Monday 25 June 2018

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Did you know that most Australian adults eat less than half the recommended quantity of wholegrain foods every day?

    The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend adults should eat 4–6 serves of grain (cereal) foods every day, with at least two thirds of these coming from wholegrain or high fibre options.

    So, what are grain foods, and why are wholegrains best? Read on to find out why you should make wholegrains a part of your daily diet.

    What are grain foods?

    Grain foods, also called cereal foods, are foods made from the grains of plants. Common grain crops include wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa and corn.

    There are lots of different ways to eat grains. You can eat some by cooking them and eating them whole, like rice or quinoa. Some grains are ground up to make flour, which can be used to make foods like bread, pasta or noodles. Or, grains can be made into ‘ready-to-eat’ foods, like breakfast cereals.

    What are grains, and why are wholegrains better?

    Grains are hard seeds, made up of three main parts: the bran, endosperm and germ.

    The bran is the outside of the grain, and contains fibre, antioxidants and vitamins.

    Inside is the endosperm, which makes up the majority of the grain. The endosperm contains energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and some vitamins and minerals. This part of the grain seed would be used to fuel the growth of a new plant if the seed were to be planted.

    At the bottom of the grain is the germ. The germ is the ‘embryo’ of the grain, and holds the grain seed’s potential to sprout a new plant. The germ contains vitamins, protein, minerals and healthy fats.

    After grains are harvested, some go through a process called milling, which usually removes the bran and the germ from the grain. This gives the grain a finer texture and can make it last longer, but it also means that a lot of the goodness of the grain is taken out.

    When you eat wholegrains, all three layers of the grain are included: the bran, endosperm and the germ. This means you get a lot more of the fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that the grain contains.

    Wholegrains can be crushed to make wholemeal flours, which have a similar nutritional content to the original wholegrains.

    Eating wholegrain cereals and foods can reduce your risk of developing some diseases, including coronary heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and diverticular disease. The fibre contained in grain foods, especially wholegrains, helps your digestive system to work properly.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    How many serves should I eat?

    Every day, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults should aim to eat at least 4–6 serves of grain or cereal foods, with the majority of these made from wholegrains. Some people with higher energy needs will need to eat more than this.

    A standard serve of grain (cereal) foods contains about 500 kilojoules (the energy in the food). This translates to about:

    • 1 slice of bread
    • 1/2 a medium sized bread roll
    • 1/2 cup of cooked grain foods such as rice, pasta, barley, buckwheat, semolina, polenta, bulgur or quinoa
    • 1/2 cup cooked porridge
    • 2/3 cup wheat cereal
    • 1/4 cup muesli
    • 3 crispbreads
    • 1 crumpet
    • 1 small English muffin or scone

    You can read more about what makes up a serve of different foods on the Eat for Health website.

    When shopping for grain or cereal foods, look for the words ‘wholegrain’ or ‘wholemeal’ on the packaging. Keep in mind that breads that contain wholegrains may still be made on refined flours. Look for ‘wholemeal wholegrain’ breads, that have more fibre and nutrients that other types of bread made on wholemeal, wholegrains or refined flour (white bread) alone.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Wholegrain recipes

    Looking for ways to get more wholegrains into your diet? Try these recipes from Healthier. Happier.

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    How to eat whole grains for health

    Eating right can help improve your cardiovascular and overall health, but food labels and names can be confusing.

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    You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered if whole grains are good for you. You may also wonder “What whole grains should I eat?” or “What type of breads or cereals are best to stay healthy?”

    “There’s a short answer to all of those questions,” dietitian Erin Rossi MFN, RD, LD, says. “Opt for whole grains and avoid refined grains.”

    What the “whole” in whole grains means and why you need it

    In their original, whole (unprocessed) state grains like wheat, oats, kasha and rice have outer layers or coats. Whole grains are first harvested as a whole grain kernel consisting of layers of bran, germ and endosperm.

    These layers contain healthy vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as carbohydrates, some protein and healthy unsaturated fats.

    Processed or refined grains have the healthy outer layers stripped off. Food manufacturers will remove the outer layers of the grains in order to create a commercially successful product for consumers. This milling process mechanically removes the bran —​ the fiber-rich outer layer which contains B vitamins and minerals. Milling also removes the germ layer that contains essential fatty acids and vitamin E.

    That’s why you want to keep your grains whole as often as you can. Although some foods made from processed grains often have nutrients added back in to make them healthier — even enhanced or “enriched” foods made from refined grains lack the healthy properties that naturally occur in the whole, unprocessed kind.

    The benefits of whole grains

    Whole grain benefits go beyond nutrition. Foods made from whole grains can help you avoid weight gain.

    The outer coatings contain bran or fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. And that same fiber helps your digestive system function well, helping you to be more comfortable.

    Research has shown that eating a diet rich in whole grains helps prevent diabetes, and that it has heart-protective benefits as well. Refined grains in the diet don’t have these benefits, so whole grains are a smart choice.

    Shopping tips to wrap whole grains into your diet

    “Buying prepared foods can be tricky, especially when you look for foods made from whole grains,” Rossi says. These tips can help:

    • Check the label. The first ingredient listed should say “100% whole grain.”
    • Avoid any food that mentions the phrase “enriched” or “refined.” That’s a giveaway that the item contains refined grains.
    • Look for the “Whole Grain” stamp from the nonprofit Whole Grains Council. This stamp tells you that the product contains at least a half serving of whole grains.

    Here’s a quick cheat sheet for some popular whole-grain items that you can find at most markets.

    • Oatmeal (steel cut, instant or old fashioned).
    • 100% whole-wheat breads, English muffins or crackers.
    • 100% whole-wheat tortillas or flatbreads.
    • 100% whole-grain (wheat, corn, oat) cereals.

    Of course, you can cook or bake your own items using some of the healthy products listed below. (Click to link to some healthy recipes made with these ingredients.)

    • Barley.
    • Whole wheat couscous.
    • Wild rice.
    • Brown rice.
    • Kasha.
    • Whole wheat pasta.
    • Whole wheat pastry flour.

    “There are so many other delicious recipes that use whole grains instead of processed grains,” Rossi says. “And you can feel good about every recipe you make when you use them.”

    Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

    What are the benefits of grains in a healthy eating pattern?

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. The USDA recommends that half the day’s grain choices be whole grain.

    Whole grains have not been milled and contain the entire grain kernel; milling gives a finer texture but removes the fiber, iron and B vitamins. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.

    Suggestions for incorporating whole grains into a healthy eating pattern include adding a whole-wheat bagel or toast to breakfast, eating a sandwich on whole-grain bread at lunch or including whole-wheat pasta with dinner.

    How Many Servings of Grains Are Recommended?

    Daily Recommendation
    Age No. of servings*
    Children 2–3 years 3 ounce equivalents
    Children 4–8 years 5 ounce equivalents
    Girls 9–18 years 5–6 ounce equivalents
    Boys 9–18 years 6–8 ounce equivalents
    Women 19–50 years 6 ounce equivalents
    Women 51+ years 5 ounce equivalents
    Men 19–30 years 8 ounce equivalents
    Men 31–50 years 7 ounce equivalents
    Men 51+ years 6 ounce equivalents

    *An ounce equivalent is equal to one regular slice of bread, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, ½ cup cooked pasta, 3 cups popped popcorn, ½ cup cooked rice or one small flour tortilla.

    Essential Nutrients in Grains

    Whole grains have a positive impact on both heart and digestive health. Some of the nutrients in whole grains include:

    • Fiber: Whole grains contain fiber that may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and constipation when included in a healthy eating pattern. High-fiber foods also give a feeling of fullness, which may help with weight maintenance.
    • Minerals: Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium is important for a healthy immune system.
    • B vitamins: The B vitamins help the body release energy from protein, fats and carbohydrates.
    • Phytochemicals: These nutrients naturally occur in plants and are being studied for their ability to protect against disease.

    Find out more about the relationship of a healthy eating pattern and activity to overall health by visiting the Healthy Eating page. For online learning activities, check out the nutrition resources for online learning page.

    Every registered dietitian we know recommends whole grains as part of a healthy diet. But what are whole grains in the first place?

    Related To:

    How to eat whole grains for health

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    Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

    The term “whole grains” gets tossed around a lot. Many registered dietitians recommend getting more whole grains in your diet and you may have heard your doctor talk about eating whole grains in terms of bread and pasta. But what exactly are whole grains and why the heck should you be eating them? Here’s why whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet.

    What Are Whole Grains?

    Whole grains include a variety of grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, rye — when these foods are eaten in their “whole” form. Here’s what that means: When you look at a grain, the whole grain is exactly what it sounds like — the entire grain. This includes this includes three parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm (starchy part). To find whole grains on food labels, look for 100% whole wheat. For example, if you are looking for whole wheat bread you want to choose a 100% whole wheat bread as that bread includes 100% of all parts of the grains.

    On the other hand, the term “refined” includes only part of the grain — the starchy part — and not whole grain. People often use the term “refined” when talking about white bread. The grains used in these products are missing many of the nutrients found in the whole grains. Flours and breads that do not use the whole grain tend to be enriched, meaning the nutrients lost are added back in.

    How Many Whole Grains Do You Need?

    According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, half of your daily grains should be from whole sources. The recommendation is to get 6 ounce equivalents per day of grains. One slice of bread is equivalent to 1 ounce and so is 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal and 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal. According to the Dietary Guidelines, about 95% of people in the U.S. do not meet the recommendation to make half of your grains whole (that’s 3 ounce equivalents per day).

    Why Are Whole Grains Important?

    Whole grains provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Some nutrients such as B-vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium iron and fiber are found in much higher amounts in whole grains compared to fruits and veggies.

    One of the nutrients under-consumed by most Americans, fiber, is found in whole grains. There are many benefits of fiber. It helps keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy. Some whole grains (like oats) can also help lower cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, while others (like bran) can help decrease the risk of colon cancer. Fiber can also help keep you feeling full after a meal, and indirectly help with weight loss or maintenance by helping with satiety (that feeling of fullness).

    How to Eat More Whole Grains

    There are many ways to get more whole grains in your healthy, balanced diet. Here are a few easy swaps you can do in your daily diet.

    • Choose 100% whole grain bread instead of white bread.
    • Opt for whole grain pasta verses enriched pasta.
    • Instead of choosing white rice on most occasions, alternate with brown rice, farro, quinoa, and other whole grains.
    • Add air-popped popcorn to your list of whole grain snacks.
    • Enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal or in overnight oats. Add rolled oats to cookie, pancake batters or other baked goods.

    *This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

    Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    What are wholegrains?

    A huge variety of cereal crops are grown for food throughout the world including wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice. Grains are the seeds of these cereal plants. The entire grain or ‘wholegrain’ is made up of three elements:

    • a fibre-rich outer layer – the bran
    • a nutrient-packed inner part – the germ; and
    • a central starchy part – the endosperm.

    During the milling process, the bran and the germ are often removed to give a ‘whiter’ cereal.

    What nutrients do wholegrains contain?

    Most of the goodness in grains is in the outer bran layer and germ of the seed so wholegrains can contain up to 75% more nutrients than refined cereals. Wholegrains provide:

    • fibre
    • B vitamins and folic acid
    • essential fatty acids (omega-3 fats)
    • protein
    • antioxidants including vitamin E, selenium
    • micronutrients like copper and magnesium
    • other parts of the plant (phytochemicals) which may have health benefits.

    Why should we choose wholegrains?

    Evidence is growing that eating wholegrains regularly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle helps to keep us healthy and may also help to reduce the risk of many common diseases. It is not only the fibre in them that has health promoting properties – it seems to be the ‘complete package’ of nutrients that work together to offer protection.

    Research suggests that:

    • The risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes may be up to 30 per cent lower in people who regularly eat wholegrains as part of a low-fat diet and healthy lifestyle.
    • The risk of developing some forms of cancer of the digestive system like bowel cancer may be reduced with higher intakes of wholegrains. Some of the fibre moves food along more quickly and easily, reducing the time that damaging substances are in contact with the gut wall.
    • Some of the fibre provides a food source for ‘friendly’ gut bacteria helping them to increase and produce substances which are thought to protect the gut wall, such as short-chain fatty acids.
    • Wholegrains may help in maintaining a healthy body weight over time as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
    • Wholegrains are usually low in fat but rich in fibre and starchy carbohydrate and often have a low glycaemic index (GI). This means they provide a slow release of carbohydrate into the blood which, together with fibre content, may help keep you feeling fuller for longer – aiding to control snacking and appetite.
    • Most cereal foods eaten in the UK are refined and our intake of wholegrains is very low. Surveys show that 95 per cent of adults don’t eat enough and nearly one in three of us get none at all.

    How can I increase my intake of wholegrains?

    When choosing foods from the starchy food group, replace refined cereal foods such as white bread and rice with wholegrain varieties such as wholemeal bread and brown rice.

    Wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice are the most commonly available cereals which can be eaten in the wholegrain form. To find them, look for the word ‘whole’ before the name of the cereal e.g. whole-wheat pasta, whole oats and make sure they are high up/ first in the ingredients list.

    Multigrain is not the same as wholegrain – it means that the product contains more than one different type of grain. There is currently no advice on what amount of wholegrains to eat in the UK but many experts in other countries say to aim for three servings a day (see table below for portion size).

    List of wholegrains

    Cereals:

    • wheats, including spelt and durums
    • rice
    • barley including hull-less or naked barley but not pearled
    • maize (corn)
    • rye
    • millets
    • oats, including hull-less or naked oats
    • wild rice

    Other grains:

    • buckwheat
    • quinoa
    • ‘ancient grains’ e.g. kamut, freekah, amaranth.

    Summary

    Most of us eat too few wholegrains to get the health benefits from the whole range of nutrients they contain as we tend to eat more refined cereals. However, given the wide variety of foods now available, it is easier than ever to make them the tasty staples of a healthy diet.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    In 2015 the USDA published their most recent Dietary Guidelines. One of the recommendations was to fill about one quarter of our plates with grains. They also recommended that at least half of those grains be whole grains.

    Can you tell the difference between whole grains and refined grains? Grains are defined as the seed of a plant that is harvested for food. A whole grain product includes all three parts of the grain: the bran, endosperm, and germ. A refined grain is a milled product that takes away the bran and germ and leaves only the endosperm.

    Why is it healthful to eat all three parts of the grain?

    It turns out that stripping the grain of the bran and germ also strips the grain of important nutrients. Compared to the endosperm, the bran contains twice the amount of protein and 10 times the amount of fiber. Yes, grains do have protein and fiber, but not very much if you only eat refined grains. As for the germ, it contains three times as much protein and nearly three times as much fiber than the endosperm. It also contains healthy fats, like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are absent in the endosperm. Lastly, the bran and germ contain many of the Vitamin B complex whereas the endosperm does not.

    What are more benefits of eating whole grains?

    In addition to being generally good for our bodies, the fiber, protein and healthy fats found in whole grains give us a sense of fullness when we are eating and help us not to overeat. Because grains are broken down in our digestive system to simple sugars, eating refined grains can cause a spike in our blood sugar followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar. Whole grains, with their fiber, protein and fats, take longer for our bodies to digest which allows sugar to be absorbed in a more stable manner. What does this mean for our kids? Less craving of starches and sugars and perhaps less moodiness in between meals (though I can’t blame that solely on refined grains and sugars in teenagers!)

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Some people swear that whole grains are necessary for a healthy diet, while others swear off grains altogether. Are whole grains good for you, or are whole grains bad for you? What exactly is a whole grain, for that matter? Here’s some information that can help you understand whole grains.

    What is a whole grain?

    Foods made with whole grains use the entire grain kernel – bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains can come from any type of cereal grain – wheat, barley, brown rice, rye, etc. This also include pseudocereal grains such as quinoa and buckwheat.

    Common whole grain foods include the grains themselves, oatmeal, popcorn, breads, brown rice, and foods made with whole grain flour.

    Refined grains vs. whole grains

    Whereas whole grains use 100% of the grain kernel, refined grains separate the bran and germ. This gives the grain a finer texture and increases shelf life. However, the refining process also removes nutrients such as dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins.

    Refined grains include white flour, white rice, and white bread. Refined grains are usually enriched to re-add nutrients, but this does not include the addition of dietary fiber.

    Benefits of whole grains

    What are the health benefits of whole grains?

    • Whole grains provide many nutrients that are essential to good health and functions of the body.
    • Whole grain foods are a good source for dietary fiber, B vitamins such as riboflavin and folate, and minerals such as iron, selenium, and magnesium.
    • Diets including whole grains are associated with reduced risk for type 2 diabetes.
    • Whole grains may help improve heart health by managing hypertension, protecting against arterial plaque buildup, and reducing the risk for stroke.
    • Whole grains can also help with weight management and promote good GI health.

    Do you need grain in your diet?

    For years, whole grains were considered a staple of a healthy diet. However an increase in the number of popular, trendy diets that suggest eliminating gluten or limiting the amount of carbohydrates a person consumes has added confusion as to whether or not whole grains are good for you.

    The USDA recommends that adults consume 5-8 ounces of grain each day, and that at least half of all grains be whole grain.

    Still, many people are convinced that even whole grains aren’t healthy. One argument is that whole grains are less nutrient-dense than vegetables. It’s true, if you compare the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals you get from whole wheat bread with the amount you get from the same quantity of spinach, spinach is the clear winner. White bread? Not even in the contest.

    Will you — or your kids — eat the same amount of spinach as whole wheat bread? Switching from white bread to whole wheat bread may be a more realistic plan than trying to get all your fiber needs from fresh vegetables.

    Another concern is that packaged goods labeled “Made with whole grains” may deceive us into choosing foods made with refined flours, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients. Quick tip: check the fiber content on the nutrition label. If the food contains fewer than 3 grams of fiber per serving, it’s not a whole grain food. Check sugar grams while you’re there, too, and use that information to decide whether that food is a good choice for you and your family.

    Always consult your primary care physician before making drastic lifestyle changes such as eliminating entire food groups from your diet.

    Your primary healthcare provider is there to help you make health decisions based on your individual health needs. Be sure to meet with your primary care doctor on a regular basis. Set up an appointment with a MANA physician today!

    How to eat whole grains for health

    March is National Nutrition Month, the perfect opportunity for seniors and people of every age to assess their dietary choices. The foods we eat can make a big difference in our health!

    This year, why not start with one of the healthiest dietary upgrades we can make—cutting down on refined starches and adding more whole grains? Eating more whole grains helps us …

    Increase our nutrient intake. Whole grains are a great source of B vitamins, folate, magnesium, selenium, zinc and antioxidants.

    Add more fiber to our diet. Fiber improves digestion, and that’s only the beginning. Dr. Bamini Gopinath of Australia’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research tells us that people who consume adequate fiber are less likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, depression and disability, and have an 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life.

    Maintain a healthy weight. Numerous studies show that replacing refined carbohydrates, such as while flour, with whole grains helps people lose unwanted pounds. Not only do we feel satisfied faster when we eat whole grains (and are hence less likely to overeat), but also, according to Tufts University nutritionists, eating whole grains speeds up our metabolism so we burn more calories.

    Protect our heart and brain. A study from the Cleveland Clinic showed that adding whole grains to our diet lowers cholesterol, helps control blood pressure, and lowers our risk of heart attack and stroke—even among people who are overweight.

    Prevent certain cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that eating whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal and gastric cancer—and the more you eat, the lower the risk.

    Reduce inflammation. Inflammation raises the risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes to dementia to gout. Some studies show that eating processed grains raises the level of inflammation, but whole grains can lower the level.

    Live longer. In a large study, Harvard researchers found that participants who ate a lot of whole grains were less likely to die during the course of the study than those who did not. All the benefits above contribute to this longevity boost by reducing the incidence of mortality due to everything from heart disease to diabetes to respiratory failure.

    So, what is a whole grain?

    Whole grains contain the entire grain—the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains are milled and the bran and germ are removed. This increases their shelf life, but definitely decreases their food value.

    Here’s one more reason to eat more whole grains: they’re delicious! You might think of whole wheat and brown or wild rice as the whole grains you could add, but that is only the beginning. Oatmeal, corn and barley are whole grains. Try some new ones, such as quinoa, faro and bulgur, all of which are delicious in soups, salads and side dishes. And do you know what the largest whole grain is? Popcorn! It’s a healthy snack, so long as you don’t overdo the salt and butter.

    The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your health care provider. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about a diet plan that’s right for you.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Recently, Harvard Health highlighted a scientific study that shows just how important eating whole grains on a regular basis is for heart health. The study took into account more than 3,100 people who were followed for 18 years. “[Researchers] found that people who ate at least three servings of whole grains daily had smaller increases in blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and waist size compared with those who ate less than half a serving per day. Increases in those three factors are associated with greater odds of developing cardiovascular disease,” Julie Corliss, the executive editor of Harvard Health Letter, says of the study. Besides being good for the heart, whole grains are also a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for the entire body—especially the gut.

    If you’re confused about what whole grains actually are, a whole grain means the grain contains the endosperm, germ, and bran. (This is compared to a refined grain that will only have the endosperm.) Some examples of whole grains are corn, oats, quinoa, sorghum, brown rice, bulgur, teff, whole wheat bread or pasta, millet, and buckwheat. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults eat between five and nine ounces of grains per day, most of which should be whole grains,” registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, says.

    Need some help getting there? Rounded up here are tips straight from Rifkin on how to up your whole grains at every meal. Plus, meal ideas with whole grains to try so you can put the tips into action and know it will taste delicious. Hey, it’s doctor’s orders.

    How to up your whole grains at breakfast

    “One easy way to integrate whole grains into your breakfast is swapping white bread, bagels, or English muffins for a whole grain option,” Rifkin says. “Or, you can make yourself a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal.” Rifkin says she’s also a fan of mixing whole-grain granola with Greek yogurt and fruit for a breakfast that’s balanced in fiber and protein. “You can even bake bran muffins or add a whole grain to your smoothie,” she says.

    Photo: Nourished By Caroline

    1. Banana bran muffins

    This recipe is full of heart-healthy bran and doesn’t include any added sugar whatsoever. Instead, bananas, applesauce, and vanilla are used for sweetness. Between the grains and the banana, these muffins are chock full of fiber.

    Photo: A Couple Cooks

    2. Creamy oatmeal smoothie

    If you’ve never added whole grains to your smoothie before, this recipe is a great one to try. It combines rolled oats with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, banana, pineapple, vanilla, and cinnamon. The end result is uber creamy and just sweet enough.

    Photo: Jessica In The Kitchen

    3. Espresso cinnamon overnight oats

    This breakfast only takes five minutes of prep time and five minutes of cook time—a lazy (or time-pressed) healthy eater’s dream. The oats are soaked with brewed coffee, almond milk, cinnamon, and a splash of creamer overnight in a jar. Then, you just need to heat it up the next morning.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    • To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product – such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. It’s important to substitute the whole-grain product for the refined one, rather than adding the whole-grain product.
    • For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
    • Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup or stews and bulgur wheat in casserole or stir-fries.
    • Create a whole grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, wild rice, brown rice, broth and spices. For a special touch, stir in toasted nuts or chopped dried fruit.
    • Experiment by substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening.
    • Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs in meatloaf.
    • Try rolled oats or a crushed, unsweetened whole grain cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish, veal cutlets, or eggplant parmesan.
    • Try an unsweetened, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal as croutons in salad or in place of crackers with soup.
    • Freeze leftover cooked brown rice, bulgur, or barley. Heat and serve it later as a quick side dish.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    • Snack on ready-to-eat, whole grain cereals such as toasted oat cereal.
    • Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal when making cookies or other baked treats.
    • Try a whole-grain snack chip, such as baked tortilla chips.
    • Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack with little or no added salt and butter.

    What to Look for on the Food Label:

    • Choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list:
    “brown rice” “whole oats”
    “bulgur” “whole rye”
    “graham flour” “whole wheat”
    “oatmeal” “wild rice”
    “whole-grain corn”
    • Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products.
    • Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.
    • Use the Nutrition Facts label and choose products with a higher % Daily Value (%DV) for fiber – the %DV for fiber is a good clue to the amount of whole grain in the product.
    • Read the food label’s ingredient list. Look for terms that indicate added sugars (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and molasses) and oils (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) that add extra calories. Choose foods with fewer added sugars, fats, or oils.
    • Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged foods. Similar packaged foods can vary widely in sodium content, including breads. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods with a lower % DV for sodium. Foods with less than 140 mg sodium per serving can be labeled as low sodium foods. Claims such as “low in sodium” or “very low in sodium” on the front of the food label can help you identify foods that contain less salt (or sodium).

    Whole Grain Tips for Children

    • Set a good example for children by eating whole grains with meals or as snacks.
    • Let children select and help prepare a whole grain side dish.
    • Teach older children to read the ingredient list on cereals or snack food packages and choose those with whole grains at the top of the list.
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    Healthy Whole Grains

    Most Americans do not know about the many health benefits of eating just one, two or three extra servings of whole grain foods each day. You can influence your wellness level by eating a healthful diet. By choosing a variety of whole grain products each day, you will reap many natural health benefits now, plus reduce your risk of many major chronic diseases in the future. Indeed, eating whole grain foods is associated with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in premature death from all causes.

    Several links about Whole Grains are listed below. For more information, contact our office at (785) 532-5782 or by email at [email protected]

    • Healthful Whole Grains Leader’s Guide — Teaching about Healthful Whole Grains from K-State Research and Extension
    • Healthful Whole Grains Fact Sheet — Facts about Healthful Whole Grains from K-State Research and Extension
    • How to Tell A Whole Grain — USDA
    • Healthy People 2030 — Home page for Healthy People 2030 health care goals
    • The Cook’s Thesaurus — defines and pictures a variety of whole grains
    • Kansas Wheat Commission — Wheat facts and nutrition education fact sheets about various whole grains, whole wheat recipes and cooking tips, grains teaching materials for children and poster
    • Hodgson Mill– recipe site from a company that sells whole grains
    • Wheat Foods Council– Wheat Foods Council site with a variety of grains nutrition information
    • Kraft Foods Quick and Easy Healthy Living Recipes– Post brand company’s web site, featuring whole grain nutrition education
    • Quaker Oatmeal — home page for Quaker Oats, with nutrition information and recipes

    Welcome to an 8-part blog series on what to eat for less pain — designed by Marie Feldman, one of our amazing registered dietitians here at PeerWell Health, based out of Los Angeles!

    After this pain-free eating series, you’ll be able to:

    • Choose what foods to add or get rid of in your diet
    • Identify which foods promote good health and wellness
    • Understand how certain foods fight inflammation and pain

    Pain, eating for pain & your day-to-day eating habits: What’s the link?

    Believe it or not, what you eat everyday can make a BIG difference: both in your energy levels and your body’s ability to deal with pain. Good nutrition helps your joints and muscles function, heal and thrive. It’s also an extra way to fight pain – be it back, knee, shoulder or another type of pain. Take 5 minutes for yourself to learn about how nutrition is affecting your health.

    Whole grains can help reduce pain.

    Today’s topic is whole grains. You’ll learn what counts as a whole grain, what doesn’t, and how to get more in your diet. If you’re interested in protein’s affect on pain and health, learn more here.

    Why eat more whole grains for less pain?

    Whole grains and fiber are the unsung heroes of health. More than just bowel help, fiber is key to your wellbeing — read on to see all the things fiber helps with.

    A common deficiency in the United States.

    Unfortunately, only about 5-7% of Americans are getting the recommended amount of daily fiber in their diets. That means 93-95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber!

    Benefits of eating whole grains often:
    • Decreases the bad and increases the good: Whole grains improve after-meal blood sugar and inflammation, help with satiety for weight loss and reduce serum cholesterol levels.
    • Helps with inflammation, pain and the immune system: Whole grains have valuable nutrients like antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and iron. These help the body deal with pain, strengthen the immune system and lower inflammation.
    • Prevents disease: Among the best sources of fiber (others include fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts), fiber intake is important for preventing a whole host of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
    • Controls blood sugar: Whole grains also work to control blood sugar. This is particularly important if you’re diabetic or have pre-diabetes, but applies to everyone.
    • Improves surgery results: For those undergoing surgery, you can use whole grains to help control blood sugar – which is linked to better wound healing, less risk of blood clots and less need for extra surgery. A clear example of how what we eat everyday affects our body right now! More information on nutrition before surgery.

    What counts as a whole grain?

    Tip #1: Whole grains should be listed as the first ingredient on a product’s food label. If not, that product probably only has a small portion of whole grains.

    Skip the refined grains — eat for less pain

    In contrast, refined grains are milled to remove the bran and germ and create a different texture. This comes at the cost of removing much of the nutrition — including fiber, iron, and B vitamins.

    Refined grains to avoid:
    • white bread, white rice and pasta made with white flour
    • refined breakfast cereals, such as those with a sweet or sugary coating
    • desserts like cookies, candy, cakes, pies, donuts, pastries

    3 more reasons why you’ll want to reduce refined carbs:

    • Leave you hungry and unsatisfied: Refined, low-fiber carbohydrates (made with white sugar and white flour) are digested and absorbed rapidly. This can lead to blood sugar spikes and weight gain. They also don’t help keep you full and satisfied.
    • Pump your body full of bad stuff: Eating refined starches can increase blood sugars, blood fats called triglycerides and inflammation in the body which can worsen chronic pain.
    • Provide little nutrition: Also, these foods do not offer much nutrition to the body, only empty calories.

    Tips to get more whole grains each day

    1. Eat whole grains and you’ll be full – both of nutrition and fullness-wise. Gradually start replacing the refined grains with whole grain foods.
    2. Choose whole, unmilled grains. When in doubt, look at the whole grains listed above! They’re all high fiber.
    3. You can comfortably eat 1.5-3 cups of whole grains each day. Alternatively, make your plate 25% whole grains at every meal.

    Tip #2: You can look for the yellow whole grain stamp on the packaging, created by the Oldways Whole Grain Council.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, has studied nutrition for almost two decades. She was named an emerging leader in women’s health by the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Marley Hall is a writer and fact checker who is certified in clinical and translational research. Her work has been published in medical journals in the field of surgery, and she has received numerous awards for publication in education.

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    How to eat whole grains for health

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    Key Takeaways

    • Consuming whole grains can lead to some positive cardiovascular health outcomes, but not necessarily a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.
    • It is recommended that people include three servings of whole grains in their diet per day.

    Consuming whole grains, like whole grain bread, brown rice, and quinoa, instead of their refined counterparts may result in improved health outcomes, according to new data.

    Research has already established that consuming whole grains is linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal cancers. For this November study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers aimed to determine whether whole grain consumption improved cardiovascular outcomes compared to refined grains (like white bread and white rice) or placebo in adults.

    From the data, researchers concluded that for adults with and without cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, consuming certain whole grain as opposed to refined grain may improve:

    • Total cholesterol
    • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
    • Hemoglobin A1C (an indicator of blood glucose control)
    • C-reactive protein (a biomarker for inflammation)

    Additionally, consuming whole grain rice (like brown rice) decreased triglycerides. Having elevated triglycerides can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

    Although these are all positive outcomes, it does not appear that consumption of whole grains can be recommended as a direct way to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to these results.

    Whole Grain Health Benefits

    The term “whole grain” is tossed around a lot as a good-for-you choice on the internet and food packaging, but there can be some confusion as to what whole grains really are.

    “A whole grain has three parts attached to it—the bran, endosperm, and germ,” Christina Brown, RDN, a registered dietitian based in New Jersey, tells Verywell. The bran and germ are nutrition powerhouses—containing nutrients like fiber, magnesium, selenium, and a slew of other beneficial properties.

    While consuming whole grains may not reduce your risk of developing CVD, it may help reduce your risk of dying if you are diagnosed with CVD, according to data from 2016.  

    Specifically, the data suggests that for every 16-gram serving of whole grains (approximately one serving; equal to one slice of whole grain bread or half a cup of brown rice), cardiovascular-related deaths declined by 9%. And when 48 grams of whole grains were consumed (three servings) every day, rates of cardiovascular death declined by 25%.  

    This echoes results obtained from the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study, suggesting that women who ate two to three servings of whole grains each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than one serving of whole grains per week.  

    What This Means For You

    Choosing whole grains instead of refined grains can offer you a variety of health benefits. Swapping out foods like white rice and white bread for whole grain options like brown rice and whole grain bread are simple ways to include them more into your diet.

    Should You Avoid Refined Grains?

    While consumption of whole grains is linked to a slew of benefits, there may be unique benefits to including certain refined grains like rice and pasta in your diet as well.

    “When considered on their own as opposed to part of an unhealthy eating plan, there is no evidence to link refined grains with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, or high blood pressure,”   Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Boston, Massachusetts, and co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan: A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health, and Happiness, tells Verywell. “Everyday staple foods [and refined grains], such as bread, cereal, and pasta, are significant sources of B vitamins—including folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects—and iron.”

    Ward says that whole grains are not typically fortified with B vitamins and iron.

    Because of this, experts don’t suggest totally eliminating refined grains from your diet.

    How to Include Whole Grains In a Healthy Diet

    Consumption of whole grains remains low in the U.S. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, the average intake of whole grains was far below recommended levels across all age-sex groups, while average intake of refined grains was well above recommended limits for most age-sex groups.  

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends people consume three servings of whole grains per day.  

    Examples of whole grain foods include:

    • Whole grain bread
    • Whole wheat
    • Stoneground whole grain crackers
    • Brown rice
    • Oats
    • Quinoa

    To incorporate more whole grains into your diet, easy strategies include:

    • Snacking on air-popped popcorn
    • Making a sandwich on whole grain bread instead of white
    • Plating dinner on a small bed of brown rice instead of white

    For those who follow a gluten-free lifestyle, including whole grains in the form of foods like quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn can be positive dietary additions while remaining compliant with dietary restrictions.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Whole grains are an important part of the diet that add fiber, vitamins and minerals to your daily intake. The recommended amount of grains in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 6 ounce-equivalents per day. Though many people know the dietary guideline recommendation to “make half your grains whole,” it is important to understand what whole grains are and why is it important to limit your intake of refined grains.

    What are whole grains?

    Whole grains are exactly what they sound like – the entire grain! Grains are broken up into three parts: the germ, the bran, and the endospore. The germ stores healthy fats and vitamins; the bran is the hard outer coating of the seed that provides fiber; and the endospore provides carbohydrates. When you see something is labeled as a “whole grain,” it means that all three parts of the grains are used.

    Why choose whole grains?

    Choose whole grains to get the most out of your carbohydrate for the same number of calories. Incorporating all three parts of the seed instead of just the endospore means you get fiber, healthy fat and vitamins in your carbohydrate. Fiber helps increase feelings of fullness for fewer calories, while vitamins and healthy fats help your body in many other ways. Those who consume all of their grains as whole grains should include some grains, such as some whole-grain ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, that have been fortified with folic acid. This is particularly important for pregnant women; folic acid fortification in the United States has been successful in reducing the incidence of neural tube defects during fetal development.

    While whole grains boast all these nutritional benefits, refined grains (white bread, rice, etc.) use only the endosperm, meaning you miss out on all the other potential nutrients!

    Although grain products such as cookies, cakes, and some snack foods should be limited, grains with some added sugars and saturated fats can fit within healthy eating patterns.

    How can I know which grains are whole?

    It is easy to consume whole grains such as rice, popcorn, quinoa, barley, millet, wild rice, and oats.

    Navigating the grocery store for whole grains can be tricky. First and foremost, look for the whole grain stamp on the front of foods. If there is no whole grain stamp, look at the ingredients list on the back. Whole grains say:

    • Whole grain [name of grain]
    • Whole wheat
    • Whole [other grain]
    • Stoneground whole [grain]
    • Brown rice
    • Oats, oatmeal
    • Wheatberries

    However, these terms indicate that some parts of the grain may be missing and they are not necessarily whole grains:

    • Wheat
    • Semolina
    • Durum wheat
    • Organic flour
    • Stoneground
    • Multigrain

    New regulations:

    How to eat whole grains for health

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has recently updated regulations regarding whole grains served in schools in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids act of 2010. For lunch, beginning July 1, 2012 until June 30, 2014, half the grains served in schools over the course of the week must meet the whole grain rich criteria. Starting July 1, 2014, all grains served in schools must meet the whole grain rich criteria.

    For the new free breakfast program in schools, the National School Lunch Program, half the grains each week served at breakfast must meet the whole grain rich criteria. Beginning July 1, 2014, all the grains served weekly must meet the whole grain rich criteria.

    Foods that meet the whole grain rich criteria must contain 100% whole grain or contain a blend of whole grain flour and enriched flour. Whole grain flour must comprise at least 50% of the blend if the blend is to meet the whole grain rich criteria.

    Do we really need whole grains?

    MyPyramid.gov states that half of our grains should be whole grains, but have you ever wondered why?

    Michigan State University Extension says that when we eat whole grains in a healthy diet, we can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, grains are also vital for the health and maintenance of our bodies. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, colo-rectal cancer and constipation. Eating at least three ounces per day can also help with weight management as they us feel full for longer. During pregnancy, folate is very important in preventing defects in fetal development and fortified grains are loaded with folate and other vitamins and minerals.

    Fiber – Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol in our blood and could lower the risk of heart disease. It helps to keep our bowels functioning which leads to less constipation and diverticulitis, which could lead to a lower risk of colon cancer. Weight management is easier when we feel full and fiber keeps us feeling full for longer, while consuming fewer calories. Check the labels on your grains to see just how much fiber is in a serving. It may surprise you to see a “whole wheat” bread with only one gram of fiber.

    Vitamins – Vitamins are important for our metabolism and nervous systems. They help our bodies get energy from the protein, fat and carbohydrates we eat. Many of the refined grains are enriched with these vitamins.

    Folic Acid – Folic Acid (folate) is another B vitamin that helps to form our red blood cells. It is vital that women of child bearing years get enough folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects, including spina bifida. It’s important to eat a balanced diet rich in foods that contain folate.

    Iron – Iron carries oxygen in the blood and people who don’t get enough iron in their diets can end up with iron-deficiency anemia. Many young women in their childbearing years are anemic. They should eat foods that are high in iron and Vitamin C, which helps the absorption of iron. Whole and enriched refined grains are great sources of iron in our diets.

    Minerals – Whole grains are rich sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is used in building strong bones and the release of energy from muscles. Selenium is important to a healthy immune system and protects cells from oxidation (aging).

    Now that you know how good whole grains are for you well-being, I hope you choose to put more into your diet. Experiment with them, you may be surprised how delicious they are!

    This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

    Did you find this article useful?

    How to eat whole grains for health

    If you’re ready to hop on the Whole Grains bandwagon, hooray! There’s still plenty of room here for another health-conscious girl like you! But maybe you’re hesitating, not quite sure how to eat more whole grains. Don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of a diet rich in whole grains! I’ve been enjoying them for years, and I’m happy to share some whole grain pro-tips. Here are 7 tips on how to eat more whole grains.

    1 Swap Your Pasta

    I would never have been able to make the whole grain commitment if pasta was off-limits. Thank goodness for whole grain pasta, then… it’s just as tasty and delicious (even more so, in my opinion) than the pastas made from refined flour. When your last box of plain Barilla is gone, buy a new box of whole grain pasta, and enjoy! Making this switch is one of the easiest ways to eat more whole grains.

    2 Try a New Cereal

    Most breakfast cereals are made with at least part of a grain, but you still need to check labels to make sure the cereal you love contains whole grains, and not just refined grains. Take a peek at the ingredients. Are one of the first ingredients oats? Then chances are, it’s whole grain oats. But if the ingredients say “wheat” rather than “whole wheat” or “rice” rather than “brown rice,” you may want to find a new cereal — these almost always refer to refined wheat or rice, not whole grain.

    How to eat whole grains for health10 Tasty Sweet Potato Recipes .

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    3 Switch Your Bread

    White bread is bland, flimsy, and literally bleached of its nutrients, most of which were stripped away with the bran and germ in the refining process. If you really want to know how to eat more whole grains, this is another excellent place to start — swap your familiar but icky white bread for whole grain bread instead. Like cereal, you have to scrutinize the ingredients, though, to make sure your replacement bread is actually whole grain bread. If so, get ready to enjoy a much tastier and filling toast or sandwich maker. Yum!

    4 Add Some to Soups

    Almost any soup or stew can be improved by adding a little cooked brown rice or quinoa. It’s another easy way to eat more whole grains. Be sure, though, that you add the rice or quinoa by serving, because letting it cook too long will make it soggy.

    5 Try Them as a Side

    Wondering how to eat more whole grains, and maybe trick your family into eating them, too? Try adding brown rice as a side dish at dinner, rather than Kraft Mac and Cheese. It’s a much healthier choice, on several levels — you’ll be adding whole grains to your family’s diet, and replacing a fat and sodium-laden chemically-enriched side dish.

    6 Bake with Them!

    Most baking recipes call for “all-purpose” flour, but by making using half whole grain flour, and half “all-purpose” flour, you can even add whole grains to your cookies and cakes, breads and pies. Want to know how to eat more whole grains, even than that? Look for recipes that call for “whole wheat flour” rather than “all-purpose” flour instead of trying to convert your own.

    7 Enjoy Them as a Snack

    I’ve made my own granola bars using whole grain oats and rice and quinoa, and they’re so delicious! These little snacks are yet another way to eat more whole grains, and let me tell you, they don’t feel like work at all… they’re tasty! And because I’ve made them myself, I know exactly what’s gone in them, like less sugar and preservatives and JUNK than the store-bought granola bars and snacks.

    See? It’s completely possible to eat more whole grains without changing your entire diet and without giving up the stuff you love. There’s no way I’d have been able to give up pasta! Which of these ways to eat more whole grains will you do first? Or do you have another idea to share?

    Please rate this article

      John After watching your voedis and learning more about the health benefits of Kefir, I decided to start making my own. I can’t believe how refreshing this drink is, the most refreshing drink I have ever had. I have experimented with all kinds of flavors, may favorite is Strawberry puree and lemon juice, it is better than strawberry lemonade. I am able to make 64 oz in 48 hours, this gives me 32 ozs a day of this wonderful drink. I haven’t felt any health benefits yet or even know what to expect.

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    How to eat whole grains for health

    Bread is back! In recent years, the market for bread was softening, most likely due to concerns about carbs. With the stress of the coronavirus crisis, nearly one-third of Americans have taken comfort in bread, according to a national survey carried out by the Grain Foods Foundation.

    And while bread may be having a moment, consumers seem to be having some trouble identifying which breads and other grain-based foods are healthier, according to a new report published in the August 2020 issue Public Health Nutrition. The results suggested that consumers are frequently confused by labels that claim a product contains whole grains, which puts them at risk of choosing less healthy breads, crackers, cereals and other products.

    Here’s what you need to know about grain foods, like bread, and how to enjoy them healthfully.

    What is a whole grain compared to a refined grain?

    All grain foods, like rice and wheat, start out as whole grains, which means that all the parts of the grain, including the bran, endosperm and germ, are present. This is important since each of these components offers health-supporting nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    Make Jocelyn Delk Adams’ banana bread

    The difference between whole grains and refined grains is that refined grains are missing one or more parts of the grain’s structure, and this removal strips up to two-thirds of the grain’s nutrients. After a grain has been refined, it may be enriched with some of the missing vitamins and minerals, but the nutrients aren’t added back in the same proportions. While refined grains can help you fill nutrient gaps in your diet, your body doesn’t respond to refined and enriched grains the way it does to whole grains. Foods in their whole state tend to be the most nutritious — and that’s certainly the case with whole grains.

    Is it a big deal to eat white bread every day?

    There is always room in your diet for less healthful foods if you’re otherwise selecting nutritious foods, like veggies, fruits, pulses (beans, legumes and peas), nuts, seeds and whole grains. Ideally, though, most of the grains you choose should come from whole grain sources. Numerous studies back up the fact that replacing refined grains with whole grains can lead to big health benefits.

    In one small study, researchers looked at inflammatory markers among overweight people eating the same amount of either whole or refined grains. These markers are indicative of heart, liver and vascular health along with metabolic health. When eating whole grains, participants experienced improvements that could translate to a lower risk of chronic diseases. On the other hand, the refined grain eaters had changes in their liver health and inflammation that could end up leading to health issues.

    Related

    Health & Wellness Will 3 servings of this food group help you live longer, healthier?

    Another small study looked at people with pre-diabetes who were fed either whole grains or refined grains for 8 weeks. Both diets were matched for calories, fat, carbs and protein, and both induced weight loss. Yet there were some major changes to the internal mechanisms of the different participants’ bodies. After eight weeks on the whole grain diet, the cells responsible for secreting insulin were working better, which may ultimately lead to improvements in blood sugar control.

    These are just a couple of examples — there are hundreds of studies that demonstrate the value of focusing on whole grains over refined ones. Among the benefits are a lower risk of a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as an easier time managing weight.

    Does it matter which whole grains I choose?

    Even whole grains can be processed to varying degrees. Take oats, which are all whole grains. However, steel cut oats are coarser than instant oats and they take longer to cook — both indicators that the steel cut oats are less processed. In a small study, researchers examined how a whole grain bread’s particle size — for example, stone ground or milled — influenced blood sugar levels. In this study, participants experienced better blood sugar levels after eating the less processed, coarser whole grains compared to the more processed whole grains, and the results were linear, meaning that the more processed the grain, the worse the response was.

    Don’t get carried away with this, though. If you’re currently eating mostly refined and enriched grains, trade up to mostly whole grains. If you’re already enjoying whole grains, then you might like to upgrade to single-ingredient whole grains and coarser whole grain breads like whole-grain wheat bread and rye or multigrain bread.

    How to choose whole grains

    If you want to break out of your bread rut, there are many delicious whole grains to consider. If you’re in a sandwich routine, use the fillings as layers in a hot or cold grain bowl or switch things up and include a range of wholesome grains. Here are some ideas:

    • Bulgur is a high-fiber grain that only takes 10 minutes to cook in boiling water. It makes a delicious nutty side dish or grain salad.
    • Corn may surprise you here, but it’s actually considered a whole grain. Popcorn is probably the most fun way to enjoy it.
    • Millet is a gluten-free grain that’s often ground and prepared like polenta.
    • Quinoa is higher in protein than many other grains, but it’s actually not a grain at all; it’s the seed of a green, leafy plant. However, since it has similar nutritional properties as a grain, we treat it as such. Quinoa makes a great side dish at lunch and dinner, but it can also be eaten with baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg as a hot breakfast cereal.
    • Colored rice, like brown, black and red rice, as well as wild rice, are gluten-free grains that stand in well at many meals. In addition to the ordinary uses, colored rice can transform rice pudding into a somewhat healthier dessert.

    Related

    Health & Wellness 3 reasons to stop avoiding whole grains

    Get the portion sizes right

    One issue with grain foods — even whole grains — is that it’s easy to overdo them. Most adults need between three to six ounces a day, though younger men may need up to eight ounces daily. This may be surprising considering that a bagel is typically four ounces — or four servings. A serving is considered 1/2 cup of grains (like pasta or rice) or one slice of bread, but for popcorn, the serving size is 3 cups. Oftentimes, grains and meats are the main parts of a meal and the veggies are an afterthought. To get the portion sizes right, consider giving veggies more room on your plate and making grains the side dish.

    Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, is a nutrition and wellness expert, author and columnist. Her latest book is “Sugar Shock.” You can follow Samantha’s practical balanced eating advice on Instagram at @nutritionistsam.

    Written by: FHP Dietitians
    Published by: FHP Public Relations

    How to eat whole grains for healthHow to eat whole grains for health

    1. Get the whole package deal.В When you eat grains in their whole form, you get the benefit of all components–the bran, endosperm, and germ.
    2. Different grains have different nutrients, so try to eat a variety! Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only food group to have micronutrients!В
    3. And Minerals!В Whole grains contain zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.В
    4. Fiber! 95% of Americans don’t consume the recommended 25g of fiber daily (1). Whole grains can get you to this goal! Fiber keeps your digestive system functioning well and decreasing risk for developing chronic diseases.В
    5. Healthy Fats! There is fat in grains? It’s true–for whole grains! Refined grains have the natural oils removed in processing because it goes rancid and makes the flour spoil.В
    6. Plant-based protein.В Not all the protein in your diet needs to come from meat. Plant-based protein has been growing in popularity as research begins to show benefits (2).В
    7. Decreases chronic disease risk.В Time and time again, research has shown connections between consuming whole grains and decreased incidence of chronic disease. Although “connection” does not mean “causes,” the big message is that whole grains contribute to good health.В

    How to eat whole grains for health

    1. Start with the familiar. Switch to a whole-grain version of something you already eat. For example, try brown or wild rice instead of white rice, or whole-grain instead of regular pasta. Replace white bread with whole-grain bread for sandwiches and toast. Make oatmeal for breakfast once or twice a week. Oats are very beneficial to your health, and also very filling.В
    2. Incorporate whole grains into your diet gradually.В Add whole grains into your menu planning a little at a time. For example, try mixing some brown rice into your white rice or replacing half your white pasta with whole-grain pasta. Mix oats into a meatloaf or even into chocolate chip cookies. Substitute whole-grain cereals for quick-cooking varieties. Try substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes.
    3. Rethink snacks. Popcorn is a whole grain, too. It’s a great substitute for chips and pretzels. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.В
    4. Try one new whole grain each month. Experiment with different grains, like the “ancient grain” varieties—including quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, farro, Kamut, spelt, sorghum, and teff—which are becoming familiar on grocery shelves and in restaurants.
      How to eat whole grains for health
    5. Make sure you’re buying whole grains.В When you’re buying packaged goods or cereals, look for “whole grain” on the label, or look for the certified “whole grain stamp.” In the United States, only products in which all the grains are whole and that have at least 8 grams of one or more whole grains can legally use that term. “Multigrain” means that the product is made from more than one grain, not that those grains are whole. The term “all natural” has no meaning, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Because ingredients are listed in order of amount on labels, make sure that whole grains are at the top of the list and that the list of ingredients is relatively short.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    1. Bake them!В Didn’t think dessert could be healthy? Think again! Using whole grain flours in cookies and pies can make them part of a healthy meal.В
    2. Use the stovetop!В The traditional method for cooking grains like rice and quinoa.В
    3. Make it fast with an Instant Pot!В Some grains are time consuming to cook on the stovetop, and this may be a barrier to ever cooking them. The cook time can be greatly reduced using a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot. Check out the following link to learn more about cooking different grains in the Instant Pot.

    How to eat whole grains for health

    If you want to take whole grains one huge healthy step further, consider grinding your own wheat at home for baking. Sound crazy? It’s actually one of the healthiest changes you can make to your diet! Learn more about home-milling and some great tips to make it successful.В

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    Whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to keep you healthy. They also contain dietary fiber, which supports a healthy digestive tract and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes.

    As discussed in one of our previous
    Healthy Lifestyle Tips regarding
    grains, there are two types of
    grains: whole grains and refined
    grains. Whole grains contain the
    entire kernel — the fiber-rich bran,
    the nutrient-packed germ, and the
    starchy endosperm, while refined grains only contain the endosperm. It is recommended to make half of the grains you eat whole, so choose whole grains instead of refined-grain products as much as possible.

    How to Find Whole Grains

    Don’t be fooled by colors. Being brown doesn’t make bread whole-wheat and being white may not mean that bread is made with just refined white flour. Finding whole-grain bread takes some label reading skills. Any bread labeled “whole wheat” must be made with 100-percent whole-wheat flour.

    Also, did you know that even if bread labels advertise “seven grain” or “multigrain,” they are not necessarily whole-grain products? Check the ingredients list to make sure whole-wheat flour or some other whole grain is listed as the first ingredient and find loaves made mostly with whole-wheat or another whole-grain flour.

    How to Add Whole Grains to Your Meals

    Change your cooking style to include more whole grains and boost the dietary fiber content of meals. Partner whole grains with vegetables. Try a brown rice and vegetable stir-fry or a whole-wheat pita stuffed with salad. Or fortify mixed dishes with high-fiber ingredients. For example, add bran or oatmeal to meatloaf or toss cooked quinoa or wheat berries into a salad.

    Here are some additional tips to make half your grains whole?

    Choose a fiber-rich, whole-grain breakfast cereal, oatmeal, or whole-wheat toast for breakfast. Check the grams of dietary fiber per serving; more fiber will keep you feeling full longer.

    Choose whole grains over refined items when selecting breads, buns, bagels, tortillas, pastas and other grains.

    Experiment with different grains such as buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, sorghum, whole rye or barley.

    Enjoy whole grains as a snack. Popcorn is considered a whole-grain and three cups of air-popped popcorn contain 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and only 95 calories. Also, try 100-percent whole-wheat or rye crackers.

    Ellis, E. (2020). How to add whole grains to your diet. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/how-to-add-whole-grains-to-your- diet

    Author: Malarie Krieg, Nutrition and Dietetics, Graduate Assistant, Fisher Institute for Health and Well Being

    For more about this topic or others related to health and well-being, please contact us at the Healthy Lifestyle Center. We are here to support you on your journey to live a healthy lifestyle.