Consuming whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal cancers (colon, rectum, and small intestine). Whole grains also can help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Whole grains contain fiber, which reduces constipation, aids in reducing blood cholesterol levels and in managing blood glucose, and keeps you full longer.
How do whole grains differ from refined grains? Grains are the seeds of grasses. Whole grains are grains that have all parts of the kernel. The bran is the outer portion of the grain containing fiber,
B vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The germ is the small, inner portion of the grain containing B vitamins and vitamin E, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals. The endosperm is the starchy inner portion of the grain containing carbohydrates, protein, and B vitamins. Whole grains differ from refined grains due to processing. Refined grains contain only the endosperm. Because the bran and germ are removed in refined grains, the amount of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients are reduced. Often, refined grains are “enriched,” meaning the lost nutrients are added back, but usually not to the same level as found in the original whole grain kernel. It’s important to remember that not all foods that contain fiber are whole grain foods.
How many whole grains should I eat daily? Start by replacing some of your refined grains with a whole
grain alternative. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that half of your grains be whole grains (3 servings daily). One serving of whole grains is equal to 16 grams whole grains
Examples of a serving of whole grains include one slice of whole wheat bread, one cup cold cereal, 1⁄2 cup cooked cereal, 5 whole wheat crackers, 3 cups of popcorn, or 1⁄2 cup cooked brown rice. Examples of whole grains include rolled oats, brown rice, 100 percent whole wheat or stone ground wheat, popcorn, quinoa, whole wheat pasta/bread/crackers, and whole corn.
How do I identify a whole grain food? There are three ways to identifying whole grain foods. The first is to check the front of the package. Check the front of the package for key terms such as “100% whole grain,” “whole oats,” “made with whole wheat.”Checking the ingredients list is another way of determining whole grain content. Read the list of ingredients; one of the first three should contain key terms such as “100% whole wheat,” “stone ground whole wheat,” “whole rye flour,” “whole oats,” “whole wheat flour,” “brown rice,” or “wheat berries.” The third way is to check for extra claims and logos. Examine the other panels for extra whole grain health claims or whole grain stamps/symbols that will support your decision. If the food item is qualified to use the FDA-approved health claim (as quoted above), then that product must contain 51 percent or more of whole grain ingredients.
Information for this article and the recipes were obtained from Bulletin FAM-12, “Incorporating Whole Grains into Your Meal,” by Lindsay Macnab (undergraduate research assistant, Food Science & Human Nutrition), Sarah L. Francis PhD, MH S, RD assistant professor and state nutrition extension
and outreach specialist and Ruth Litchfield PhD, RD associate professor and state nutrition extension and outreach specialist Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service. Content adapted with permission from University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
For more information, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
Raisin Streudle Oatmeal
1⁄4 cup instant oatmeal
1⁄2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 tablespoon low-fat granola
Place oatmeal, raising, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a coffee mug or cereal bowl. Pour boiling water on top; stir and steep for two minutes. Top with skim milk and low fat granola.
Yield: 1 serving
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 120 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium , 26g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 13g sugar, 3g protein.
Ham and Brown Rice
1 (14-ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups cooked chopped ham
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups frozen peas
Optional: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
In a skillet, combine broth, ham, and garlic. Heat to boiling. Stir in rice and black pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover; add peas and cook about 4 minutes more until rice is tender and peas are hot. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top if desired. Serve immediately If desired, this recipe is easy to double and freeze, so you’ll have extra for a future meal.
Yield: 6 (1 1⁄2 cup) servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 310 calories; 5 g total fat; 35 mg cholesterol; 1160 mg sodium; 43 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 22 g protein; 20% Daily Value vitamin A; 25% Daily Value vitamin C; 4% Daily Value calcium; 10% Daily Value iron
1 box tabbouleh wheat salad mix*
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cups finely chopped parsley
Prepare the taboule wheat salad mix according to package directions.
Place the bulgar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
*Recipe tested with Near East brand, but any can be used.
Yield: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 250 calories; 16 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 890 mg sodium; 27 g total carbohydrates; 6 g dietary fiber; 6 g sugar; 4 g protein; 15% Daily Value vitamin A; 60% Daily Value vitamin C; 4% Daily Value calcium; 8% Daily Value iron.\