Whole Grains

Whole grains are a combination of words that are heard and talked about quite a bit. However, there is more to whole grains than one might think. For starters, did you know there is more than just wheat in the whole grain category? Barley, buckwheat, farro, oats, quinoa, rye, and popcorn (to name a few) are also considered whole grains. According to MyPlate, it is recommended that half of the grains that you eat during the day should be whole grain, and with so many options, it helps make this task easier.

However, you might be wondering what a whole grain is? According to Nancy Routch, Penn State Extension, in the article Whole Grains-Healthy Grains (2014), whole grain has all three parts of the kernel (bran, Endosperm, and germ). Bran is the outside coat and contains fiber and B vitamins; Germ is the embryo and contains protein, healthy fats, and B vitamins; and Endosperm is mainly a starch carbohydrate with some protein (it is also the food supply for the germ). Routch also mentions that most milled gains have both the germ and bran removed, leaving the Endosperm used to make flour.

When shopping, it can sometimes be challenging to identify whole grains; however, Routch has also provided some suggestions for identifying whole grains at the store. First, if the first ingredient says whole- (wheat flour, oats, rye, etc.), it is likely to be a whole grain product. Second, look for the whole grain stamp on the packaging. The stamp has been around since around 2005 and makes it easy to identify whole grains. Third, some companies are starting to add the amount of whole grains in a serving of their product to the packaging. This can usually be located on the front or top of the packaging/boxes (this is becoming increasingly popular among cereal packaging).

Some ways to enjoy whole grains could be adding cooked quinoa to your salad, making your next sandwich with whole-grain bread, making sure your breakfast cereals contain whole grains, having oatmeal for breakfast, to name a few. Whole grains are an important part of our diets and also provide many health benefits. According to Cason, Hunter, and Miller (2020), Clemson Cooperative Extension, in the factsheet title Whole Grains, consuming whole grains as part of a healthy eating pattern might reduce the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and others. So, try incorporating whole grains into your next meal, and do not be afraid to try a new whole grain!

For more information on whole grains, or recipes, check out the Richland County Nutrition Coalition Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/1rcnc1, and the Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/1rcnc1


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