Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Healthy Whole Grains

Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet. In addition to being low in fat and high in fiber, recent studies have shown diets high in whole grains reduced risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Rice, cereal, pasta and flour are grains or made from grain products and make up a large part of our diets. The complex carbohydrates contained in whole grains are digested slowly and adding to satiety. Quickly digested flour and sugar from white bread, pastries and rice don’t provide the same filling satisfaction as whole-wheat bread or brown rice. Whole grains actually contain higher amounts of protective antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

Because the germ contains some fat, whole grain foods spoil more quickly than refined but you can extend shelf life by storing them in the freezer or refrigerator. Removing the bran and germ gives refined grains a lighter color and texture. Many refined grains such as flour are enriched with B vitamins and iron but are still not as nutritious as the original whole grains.

It’s easy to become confused as to what products are actually contain whole grain. Many “multi-grain” foods don’t actually contain any whole grains at all. The word “whole” should be in front of the first grain, or another word such as oats, brown rice or wild rice should be the first item on the nutritional label. Terms such as “cracked wheat”, “wheat flour” or “stone-ground” do not guarantee whole grain. Try to select whole grain foods that provide at least 3 g of fiber per serving. “Whole grain” is often displayed on the front of the package.

My next posting will suggest ways to add whole grains to your diet and include a whole grain recipe.

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