Look for the Whole Grain for a Healthier You

Look for the Whole Grain for a Healthier You

Eating more whole grains is an easy way to improve the health benefits from what you eat. But if you picture a dry slice of wheat bread when you hear the term “whole grains,” there’s a whole world of other choices waiting for you. 

Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which can help you reduce the risk of heart disease, lower your cholesterol, prevent cancer, and manage your weight to help prevent diabetes. 

The key is to make sure you are eating whole grains, not refined grains, says Judith Kolish, a dietitian. 

Choose Whole over Refined Grains 

A whole grain is the entire grain. Grains are made up of three parts: germ, bran, and endosperm. Refined grains are processed to remove the healthy parts, the germ and bran. They may be light and fluffier, but they’re not healthier, since they lack most of the nutrients and fiber. 

To make sure you're getting the whole grain: 

  • Read the nutrition labels on packaged foods. 
  • Look for the "whole grain" stamp on the package. 
  • Ask for a list of ingredients on non-packaged products. 

Whole grains come in many varieties. That includes wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, rye and popcorn. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a whole grain. And there are "ancient" whole grains like farro (pronounced fair-o). The refined version of farro is called pearled. 

Benefits of Whole Grains 

Whole grains are a good source of disease-fighting nutrients. In addition, whole grains contain antioxidants such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron, says the Whole Grains Council  . People who eat 3 daily servings of whole grains have been shown to cut some health risks, such as: 

  • heart disease by 25-36% 
  • stroke by 37% 
  • Type 2 diabetes by 21-27% 
  • digestive system cancers by 21-43% 
  • and hormone-related cancers by 10-40% 
Beware of false grains 

You can't necessarily judge a product by its coloring to know if it's whole wheat, Kolish says. Brown doesn't mean whole grain. It might be brown from molasses. 

And don't be fooled. Products that say they are "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "seven-grain," or made with "cracked wheat," "bran," or "100 % wheat" may or may not be whole grain. The only way to know for sure is to look for the word "whole." Choose products that list whole grain as the first ingredient listed on the package. 

It's easy to add whole grains to your diet through recipes like this one for Tricolor Quinoa Pilaf with Peppers  , courtesy of FLIK Hospitality Group.  


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