Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
To make half your grains whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined-grain product. For example, eat 100% whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels, or brown rice instead of white rice.
Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack. Make it with little or no added salt or butter. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.
Cook extra bulgur or barley when you have time. Freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.
Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Try a quinoa salad or pilaf.
For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes, and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
Experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening in order to rise.
Set a good example for children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals or as snacks.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; excellent sources contain 20% or more.
Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” “whole rye,” or “wild rice.”
The color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole-grain food. Foods labeled as “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole grain.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel – the bran, germ and endosperm. This means whole- grain products have more fiber and nutrients.
Whole grains have more fiber, and there are two types of dietary fiber – soluble or insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. These differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health.
Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight for several reasons.
Slower stomach emptying slows sugar absorption and maintains better blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. Soluble fibers also can help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol and trapping and eliminating it.
Sources of soluble fiber: Oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery and carrots.
Insoluble fiber is opposite from soluble fiber in that it has a laxative effect and adds bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so it passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact and speeds up the passage of food and waste through your intestines.
Insoluble fiber is important in keeping harmful metabolic products from being absorbed in the gut or being in contact with the walls of the intestinal track and in trapping those products and eliminating them.
Sources of insoluble fiber: Whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit and root vegetable skins.
Whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, many phytochemicals and fiber. They are located in the bran or the germ of the grain, both of which are lost during the refining process that leaves only the starchy endosperm. Compared to diets high in refined grains, diets rich in whole grains are associated with reduced risks of several chronic diseases. Phytochemicals, lignans and phytosterols are involved in preventing different types of cancer, while fiber is associated with reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as improved intestinal health. Whole grains include amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat (kasha), flaxseed, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rye, spelt, triticale, whole wheat (wheat berries) and wild rice.