Happy Whole Grains Month!
Celebrate this month by trying new whole grains such as couscous, quinoa, wheat berries, or even whole wheat pasta! There are so many fun recipes! Searching for new recipes has become one of my favorite past times. Before we know it fall will be here and it will begin to get cooler outdoors, allowing us more time indoors participating in inside activities such as cooking! Okay that sounds so weird coming out of my mouth, did I really just say that? I never thought I would ever say something such as this, growing up and in my early 20’s, I would never have imagine myself actually enjoying cooking. Back to my original topic… whole grains.
What is the difference between
whole grains and refined grains?
Well, actually, all grains start out as whole grains. They contain all the original components of grains, which include an inner layer of germ, a middle layer called the endosperm and the outer bran layer. When grains are milled, the germ and bran are often removed, and the starchy endosperm is left. What this translates to is that the fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other trace minerals have been lost and only the carbohydrates are left. This is why you want to choose whole grains over refined grains. Here is an image….
Whole grains are an essential part of our diet as they provide us with Fiber, Iron, B Vitamins and protein. In case you forgot women need 28 grams of fiber per day and men need 38 grams of fiber per day. Adding whole grains, or more whole grains for that matter, is one way to help you reach your goal of fiber intake each day. Fruits and vegetables are another great way, but like I mentioned earlier we are focusing on whole grains.
Hang on a second, maybe I should back up, I know you have heard of fiber, but WHAT IS FIBER? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon, and out of your body.”
There are two types of fiber: Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber: Soluble, it dissolves in water, or insoluble it doesn’t dissolve.
Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels by binding to the cholesterol and excreting it out of our body via bowel movements. Soluble fiber can more specifically decrease LDL or the “bad” cholesterol levels. Whole grains that have soluble fiber include:oats and barley.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to our stool. It is important to keep us regular, thus preventing toxic waste buildup in our colon that can cause unhealthy colon cells. For example, whole wheat contains this type of fiber.
Overall fiber has many health benefits: it keeps us regular, keeps our colon cells healthy, and also keeps us fuller for longer, preventing us from over eating, thus promoting a healthy weight.
Here are some tips for the next time you are shopping and I am not around… Choose 100 percent whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice and pasta. Be sure to check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole grain foods listed, the closer they are to the top of the list the more concentrated that ingredient is in the food item.
Look for the whole grain stamp.
In order to get this stamp, products have to offer at least a half serving of whole grains.
There are two different varieties of Stamp, the Basic Stamp and the 100% Stamp.
- If a product bears the 100% Stamp, then all its grain ingredients are whole grains. There is a minimum requirement of 16g (16 grams) – a full serving – of whole grain per labeled serving, for products using the 100% Stamp.
- If a product bears the Basic Stamp, it contains at least 8g (8 grams) – a half serving – of whole grain, but may also contain some refined grain. Even if a product contains large amounts of whole grain (23g, 37g, 41g, etc.), it will use the Basic Stamp if it also contains extra bran, germ, or refined flour.
Each Stamp also shows a number, telling you how many grams of whole grain ingredients are in a serving of the product.
Keep in mind that just because an item is brown doesn’t make it whole wheat and being white may not mean that bread is made with just refined white flour…surprising right? And even if bread labels advertise “seven-grain” or “multigrain,” they are not necessarily whole grain products.
Be sure to come to my class to learn even more about whole grains and fun ways to incorporate more of them into your diet. As always, I will be sure to prepare a few sample recipes!
Peace and Wellness,
Coborn’s Registered Dietitian
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