Friday, September 9, 2011

Food Fact Friday: Whole Grains

September is Whole Grains Month! Obviously whole grains are good for you – you’ve heard it all before. But I know from experience that it’s not easy to transition when refined grains are more convenient, readily available, and simply more familiar.

Nevertheless, there are tons of really wonderful grains that it won’t hurt to try, and it will give you the opportunity to branch out with recipes.

For more information on whole grains, you can look through the Whole Grains Council website.

What exactly are whole grains?

Whole grains contain three parts -- the germ, endosperm and bran. When grains are processed, the germ and bran are stripped away, leaving just the endosperm. The germ is packed with protein, iron, vitamins and antioxidants, and the bran contains valuable minerals and vitamins, as well as insoluble fiber. The endosperm is the least nutrient dense part of the grain. When you eat whole grains, you are consuming all three parts of the grain, including the most nutritious parts.

What are some whole grains?
  • Wheat (including spelt, farro, bulgur, cracked wheat, wheatberries)
  • Corn *
  • Rice (brown and colored)*
  • Oats **
  • Barley
  • Quinoa *
  • Sorghum *
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Amaranth *
  • Buckwheat *
  • Millet *
  • Montina *
  • Teff *
  • Wild Rice *
* Gluten Free Grains

Amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are not true whole grains, but their nutritional profile, preparation and use are similar.
Q&A session with Karen Mansur, Program Manager for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council.
·      What are the biggest benefits of including whole grains in your everyday diet?
By adding whole grains to your diet, you can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, such as stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

·      What would you suggest as the easiest way to start introducing whole grains into the daily diet?
Start by looking in your pantry.  You might be pleasantly surprised to see just how many whole grains you already eat, like popcorn, whole corn tortilla chips and oatmeal-based granola bars.  When you’re ready to go to the next step, look for versions of your favorite foods that are made with a mix of whole and refined grains, to start your tastebuds enjoying the fuller, nuttier taste of whole grains.

·      What is the recommended daily consumption of whole grains for adults and children?
The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend all of us make half or more of our grains whole, with adults getting at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains every day. A serving size is about an ounce, which is one slice of bread or a bowl of cereal.

·      When buying whole grain breads and pastas, what’s the best way to tell which products are the best for you?
Food labels can be very confusing and that’s why we developed the Whole Grain Stamp program. If there isn’t a stamp, check the ingredients list and make sure you see “whole [name of grain)” – such as whole wheat four – near the top of the ingredient list.

 Q&A and list from here

some of my favorite recipes that include whole grains, 
not including whole-wheat flour and pasta:

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