Happy National Whole Grains month! As a society, we are constantly being told to make half the grains we eat as whole grains. You may have heard that whole grains are more nutritious. But do you know why?
There are three parts to a grain - the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The three different parts contain different nutrients. The bran contains fiber, multiple B-vitamins, and minerals like iron, magnesium, and selenium. The germ contains B-vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals while the endosperm contains carbohydrates and protein. By eating the entire grain, we are getting all of these nutrients which supply us with proper digestion, better metabolism, healthy blood and boost both our nervous and immune systems.
While these are only some of the benefits whole grains can provide, it is evident to see that the health benefits are widespread throughout the body. When the grain is refined, we are taking away the bran and the germ and just leaving the endosperm. This leaves us getting just carbohydrates and protein. While still nutritious, we are shorting ourselves of easy to get vitamins and minerals. Follow the tips below to help substitute whole grains for refined grains into your diet so you can get these health benefits from what you are already eating.
Make sure whole is in whole grain. Check the ingredient list out to and make sure the word “whole” is in front of the grain contained in the product. Don’t get confused by “multi-grain,” “made with wheat” or “7 grains”. This ensures the product is made out of the entire grain and not just part of it.
Brown does not equal whole wheat. Just because the product is brown or darker color does not mean it is made with whole wheat. It could be dyed, be only made with part of the wheat, or have another food product such as molasses to color it. This can be deceiving so make sure to check the ingredient list.
Start small! Most likely you are getting enough grains in your diet. For example, a large bagel is over half of your needed servings of grain for the day. So if you just even change 1 or 2 of your grain choices to whole wheat you are getting added health benefits without completely altering your diet with different foods.
Don’t forget you have options. It’s not just products made with whole wheat that are whole grains. Other great whole grain choices include popcorn, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, wild rice and whole cornmeal. Choose a variety to make adding whole grains into your diet easier.
Celebrate the month by choosing more whole grains in your diet!