Whole grains are super healthy for you. Let’s dive into them
Are You Eating Enough Whole Grains?
Do you eat whole grains? You should! The USDA says adults should have six servings of grains every day. And, half of those should be whole grains. Whole grains are fantastic for your body. They’re not just a pile of carbs; they’re super healthy.
What Are Whole Grains?
Whole grains come from plant seeds. They have three parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. There are two types: cereals and pseudocereals. Cereal grains like wheat, oats, and rice come from grass. Pseudocereal grains like quinoa and buckwheat don’t come from grass, but they’re cooked and eaten like grains.
Why Choose Whole Grains?
Grains usually start as whole grains but lose their good stuff during milling. This helps them last longer on the shelf, but it removes important nutrients. Eating whole grains is the only way to make sure you get all the nutrition.
The Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are packed with fiber, which is great for your heart, helps control your appetite, and keeps your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. They’re also full of antioxidants that fight inflammation, making you even healthier.
How Much Whole Grain Do You Need?
MyPlate recommends making at least half of your daily grains whole grains. So, if you eat six servings of grains, make three of them whole grains. One serving could be as simple as one slice of whole wheat bread.
Are Whole Grains Gluten-Free?
Yes, some whole grains are gluten-free. Brown rice, quinoa, and corn are great gluten-free options. But stay away from wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Oats are usually okay, but choose gluten-free oats to be safe.
The Top 9 Whole Grains
All whole grains are fantastic, but some have special benefits. Here are the nine best ones:
1. Oats Oats are a breakfast favorite and a fantastic source of soluble fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol levels. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Enjoy them as oatmeal, in granola, or even use oats to make cookies and muffins.
2. Quinoa Quinoa is a superstar among whole grains. It’s a complete protein source, meaning it provides all the essential amino acids your body needs. Quinoa is also gluten-free and loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Use it as a base for salads, as a side dish, or even in place of rice.
3. Brown Rice Brown rice is the less processed version of white rice, and it retains the bran and germ, making it higher in fiber and nutrients. It’s a versatile grain that can accompany a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries to grain bowls.
4. Barley Barley is known for its heart-healthy properties. It’s packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it excellent for digestive health. Barley can be added to soups, stews, or used as a side dish.
5. Whole Wheat Whole wheat is a common whole grain and is often used to make whole wheat bread, pasta, and flour. It’s rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Opt for whole wheat products whenever possible to reap the benefits.
6. Millet Millet is a gluten-free grain that’s rich in antioxidants and nutrients. It’s a versatile grain that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, including porridge, pilafs, and even as a gluten-free flour substitute in baking.
7. Buckwheat Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is naturally gluten-free. It’s high in protein and fiber, making it a great choice for those looking to increase their fiber intake. Use it to make hearty pancakes, noodles, or as a base for salads.
8. Farro Farro is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It’s a good source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like magnesium and iron. Incorporate it into salads, soups, or as a side dish.
9. Teff Teff is the world’s tiniest whole grain but packs a nutritional punch. It’s rich in iron, calcium, and resistant starch, which supports digestive health. Teff is commonly used to make injera, a sourdough flatbread, but it can also be used in porridge and baked goods.
Including these wholesome whole grains in your diet not only helps you increase your fiber intake but also provides a wide range of health benefits. They add variety and nutrition to your meals, making it easier to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.