September 1, 2019

What is a Whole Grain?


September is Whole Grains Month

Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), as well as minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium). Consuming whole grains provides many health benefits. It has been shown that eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, and may lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is essential for proper bowel function; it helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-rich foods including whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness. The B vitamins that are in whole grains help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates, which is an essential part of metabolism. B vitamins are also vital for a healthy nervous system. Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Adequate folate from foods should be consumed by women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, in addition to 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. Sufficient folate intake reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development. Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Consuming Iron-rich foods (including whole grains) along with foods rich in vitamin C is significant in preventing iron-deficiency anemia. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles and Selenium protects cells from oxidation, it is also important for a healthy immune system. Furthermore, research increasingly shows that whole grains are a good source of healthy antioxidants and phenolic compounds. Whole grains contain several phytochemicals (including antioxidants) and significantly exhibit antioxidant activity. Consumption of whole grains is considered to have significant health benefits including prevention of chronic diseases and cancer because of the contribution of phenolic compounds.

 

Examples of Whole Grains:

Amaranth

Farro

Sorghum/Milo

Barley

Kamut

Spelt

Buckwheat

Millet

Teff

Brown Rice

Oats

Triticale

Bulgur

Quinoa

Wheat

Corn

Rye

Wild Rice

 

Whole grains, how can you tell?

The Whole Grains Council has made it easy for consumers to find whole grain products by making an official “Whole Grain Stamp” to appear on packaging.

  • The 100% stamp on foods means that you are getting a full serving or more of whole grains.
  • The basic stamps with words like “good source” and “excellent source” on food labels mean you are getting at least half a serving of whole grains.

What if there isn’t a stamp?

  • Look for words like “whole grain (product), whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice and rolled oats” on the ingredient label and make sure it is the first ingredient listed.
  • The phrase “refined” means that the grain kernel has been stripped of the germ and bran and the nutrients in those parts and is no longer considered a whole grain.

 

Energy-Revving Quinoa

This meatless meal of Energy-Revving Quinoa keeps you energized between meals or after a workout.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup canned low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

In a medium bowl, gently toss all ingredients to combine.

Recipe is adapted from Health.com http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000122266,00.html