What’s So Wonderful About Whole Grains?
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Grocery store aisles are bombarded with products with “whole grain” claims. With tricky marketing terms and contradictory messages about the benefits of whole grains, it can be difficult to understand how to incorporate the food group into a healthy, balanced diet.
Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kathy Duran-Thal, RDN, shares why you should eat whole grains and what to look for on a nutrition label.
The Whole Story on Whole Grains
What exactly is a whole grain? Classifying something as a whole grain means the entire grain seed is still intact and has not been milled off from the original seed of a plant. The grain includes the bran, germ and endosperm. These three components provide essential nutrients, including fiber, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins.
Identifying Whole Grains
When navigating the grocery store aisles, it is important to know whether you are really buying a whole grain food or not. The food industry often leads consumers to believe you are buying a 100 percent whole grain product, when in reality you are buying a food made with refined grains. One way to easily identify if a product contains whole grain is to look for the Whole Grain Stamp. If the product is made from 100 percent whole grain, the ingredient label should show that it contains at least 16 grams per serving. A product offering a half serving or more of whole grain, contains at least 8 grams whole grain per serving.
Avoid products with deceptive names such as 100 percent wheat flour, cracked wheat, seven grain, nine grain, 12 grain, 15 grain and multigrain. Although these products may contain multiple types of grains, the product is refined and has been stripped of vital nutrients.
Fortunately, there are an abundance of grains that are always a nutritious choice – made from 100 percent whole grain. Some of Kathy’s favorite types of whole grains are:
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Wheat berries
Other common varieties of whole grains include: whole wheat, whole grain cornmeal, brown rice, whole rye, whole grain barley, buckwheat, bulgur and wild rice.
Health Gains from Whole Grains
Overall, your nutrition plan should be focused on balanced, healthy eating patterns and not just one nutrient or food group. A balanced diet includes a variety of healthy foods–fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and whole grains.
When there is an interaction of two or more nutrients with other health substances within foods working together, health benefits are produced that each is individually unable to match – resulting in a food synergy, providing you with the ultimate path to meet your health goals.
Whole grains provide vital health benefits, including:
- Supporting gastrointestinal (GI) health
- Reducing the risk of some cancers
- Helping maintain healthy glucose level
- Better weight management
- Providing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients
Adding Whole Grains to Your Diet
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults eat 48 grams of whole grains per day. Try choosing three of the following whole grains to fit the recommended servings:
- ½ cup cooked hot cereal, such as muesli
- One slice of 100 percent whole grain bread
- ½ cup of cooked quinoa or other cooked grain
- ½ cup of cooked 100 percent whole grain pasta
- ½ cup of cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
- One cup of 100 percent whole grain ready-to-eat cereal
- Three cups of popcorn
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, click here or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.