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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whole Grains for Health

Whole Grains:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released (January 31, 2011)  the Dietary Guidelines for 2010.   These guidelines note that a HEALTHY DIET emphasizes fruits, vegetables, WHOLE GRAINS, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.  One of the recommendations of the guidelines is to increase our intake of WHOLE GRAINS, as the guidelines state: 

·         Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

Another recommendation is to reduce our intake of refined grains:
·         Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
So how does one apply these recommendations when buying and choosing food?  It actually can be quite confusing.  One of the assignments students in my nutrition class have is to analyze food labels from a variety of cereal boxes.   It is rare that a student has any idea of which cereal is a whole grain cereal.    What does a consumer need to know when choosing grain products?  Grains can be broken down into 3 main categories:
·         Refined Grains:  Manufacturers have taken out many of the nutrients during processing of the grain. 
·         Enriched Grains:  Manufacturers have taken out many of the nutrients in processing the grain but have added back a few nutrients.
·         Whole Grains:  Provide ALL the nutrients found in the original grain.  Also, whole grains provide fiber.  Whole grains are so nutritious because they contain all parts of the grain, the bran, the germ and the endosperm and the nutrients haven’t been removed in processing. 
Which of the following breads would be whole grain?
·         Wheat Bread
·         Multi-grain Bread
·         Double Fiber bread
·         100% Whole Wheat Bread
Some would say all the above but wheat bread just contains the endosperm and is not whole wheat.  Mutli-grain bread may be whole wheat but one would need to read the ingredients label to see if the first ingredient is whole wheat flour.   If the first ingredient is enriched wheat flour, then the bread is not 100% whole wheat.  Double Fiber bread also may have the first ingredient as “enriched wheat flour” so it also would not be 100% whole wheat.  The 100% whole wheat bread would be whole wheat and the first ingredient would say:  whole wheat flour.    
When choosing grains look for the word WHOLE in the ingredient list. 
Choose These Grains/foods
Limit These Grains/foods
Whole grain wheat flour
Enriched Flour
Whole wheat flour
Enriched Bleached Flour
Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
Unbleached Enriched Flour

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour
Brown Rice
White Rice
Whole wheat Bread
White Bread
Whole Wheat Flour
White flour

Besides whole wheat, there are other ways to add whole grains to your diet.  Examples of whole grains include:
                Whole Corn, whole cornmeal, (including popcorn)
                Oats (including oatmeal)
                Brown or wild rice
                Whole Rye
So look at the food labels of the bread in your home and see if you can even find the word WHOLE on the ingredient list.   If not, you need to change your bread and find a whole grain bread, one that has the word WHOLE in the first ingredient listed.   When choosing rice, choose brown or wild rice. 

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