Let’s face it, when many people hear the term “whole grain” they automatically think “healthy,” which in turn means it must taste bad. Many assume that whole wheat bread will taste like cardboard or that quinoa is only for the “granola” crowd. To clear up these myths and to introduce the public to the health benefits and tastiness of whole grains, the Whole Grains Council is hosting its second annual National Whole Grain Sampling Day on Wednesday, April 3rd. On Wednesday, grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and other foodservice providers will be serving and promoting whole grains to their customers in support of National Whole Grain Sampling Day.
So you may be wondering, “What is a whole grain anyway”? A whole grain contains all three parts (bran, germ, and endosperm) of the “kernel” (or seed). When a whole grain is refined (or when the bran and germ have been removed), about 25% of it’s protein and 17 key nutrients are lost. So, of course, whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins and minerals.
Below are some common whole grains you may already be consuming on a regular basis:
- Sorghum (also called milo)
- Wild Rice
Now that you have an idea of what a whole grain is, what are some of the health benefits? By making sure at least half of the grains you consume come from whole grains, you can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, digestive cancers, and stroke. Need more persuading? Eating whole grains also helps to control weight, cut belly fat, and drop blood pressure. Whole grains also play an important role in our children’s lives, lowering their risk of obesity and diabetes, lowering their cholesterol, reducing their risk of asthma, and (possibly) reducing acne.
To add more whole grains to your diet, the Whole Grains Council recommends making the following easy substitutions in your favorite recipes:
- Substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes. Or be bold and add up to 20% of another whole grain flour such as sorghum.
- Replace one third of the flour in a recipe with quick oats or old-fashioned oats.
- Add half a cup of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to bread stuffing.
- Add half a cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to your favorite canned or homemade soup.
- Use whole corn meal for corn cakes, corn breads and corn muffins.
- Add three-quarters of a cup of uncooked oats for each pound of ground beef or turkey when you make meatballs, burgers or meatloaf.
- Stir a handful of rolled oats in your yogurt, for quick crunch with no cooking necessary.
Or be adventurous and try new foods:
- Make risottos, pilafs and other rice-like dishes with whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, quinoa or sorghum.
- Enjoy whole grain salads like tabbouleh.
- Buy whole grain pasta, or one of the blends that’s part whole-grain, part white.
- Try whole grain breads. Kids especially like whole grain pita bread.
- Look for cereals made with grains like kamut, kasha (buckwheat) or spelt.
So this Wednesday, try the sample of quinoa salad at the grocery store, opt for the whole wheat bagel for breakfast, or prepare a barley risotto for your family to celebrate National Whole Grains Sampling Day. Your body (and taste buds) will thank you for it!
*All of this helpful information was found on the Whole Grains Council’s website. For even more information on whole grains, please visit http://wholegrainscouncil.org
*For more information on National Whole Grains Sampling Day, please visit http://wholegrainscouncil.org/get-involved/whole-grain-sampling-day.