Choosing Whole Grains
Why Whole Grains?
- Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium).
- Dietary fiber from whole grains or other foods, may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
- The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism – they help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system. Many refined grains are enriched with these B vitamins.
- Folate (folic acid), another B vitamin, helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
- Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years have iron-deficiency anemia. They should eat foods high in heme-iron (meats) or eat other iron containing foods along with foods rich in vitamin C, which can improve absorption of non-heme iron. Whole and enriched refined grain products are major sources of non-heme iron in American diets.
- Whole grains are sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium protects cells from oxidation. It is also important for a healthy immune system.
Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: Every whole grain in your diet helps!
The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Better weight maintenance
- Reduced risk of asthma
- Healthier blood pressure levels
- Less gum disease and tooth loss
Easy ways to work more whole grains into your daily diet
- Choose Nature's Earthly Choice™ whole-grain products such as our Quinoa, Wild Rice, Millet or Wheat Berries to make as a side dish instead of using white rice or alternatives.
- Start your day off right! Instead of a bowl of cereal in the morning, use whole grain with milk (hot or cold is good) or incorporate whole grain into your pancakes or muffins.
- Add whole grains to your cakes, pastries and pies.
- Cook a batch of your favorite grains and freeze in portions or keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. When time is an issue, they’re a great ready-to-use product.
- Experiment with different grains! Don’t be scared to try something new or substitute your favorite grain in any recipe. Add brown rice and quinoa to any canned soup or take any grain and sauté with seasonal vegetables for an easy side dish.
- Sprinkle on some flax or chia seeds—a perfect way to instantly add nutrition to any meal of the day.
Want to Learn More?
The Whole Grain Council has a fantastic site filled with resources. Please take a look at WholeGrainsCouncil.org