Watching your carbs? Who hasn’t heard people who say, “I am watching my carbs.”? Well, you should “watch your carbs” to make sure you are getting whole grains in your diet every day. Most Americans are getting enough grains in their diet, but not enough whole grains.
The Whole Grains Council lists many benefits of eating whole grains. Reduce your risk for many diseases. Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of:
o Stroke by 30-36%
o Type 2 diabetes by 21-30%
o Heart disease by 25-28%
And, contrary to public opinion, whole grains can make maintaining your weight easier.
The American Heart Association in articles in Circulation, noted replacing refined grains like white bread with whole grains like whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals lowered one’s risk of heart disease (Replace refined grains with whole grains). Another article Whole grains and total deaths) looked at many studies and reported whole grains lowered one overall risk of death by lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Why are whole grains so healthy? Because they contain the entire grain, the bran, germ and endosperm, whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. When manufacturers refine grains to make white bread, white flour, many minerals and vitamins are removed and not added back. Whole grains also provide phytochemicals which have many health benefits.
Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains a day. MyPlate recommends half your grains each day should be whole grains. How can you add more whole grains to your day?
- Cereal – choose a whole grain cereal for breakfast. Oatmeal, Cheerios are whole grain. All General Mills cereals are whole grain.
- Popcorn – enjoy as a snack with only a little butter.
- Whole grain bread, whole grain bagels – use whole grain bread in a sandwich for lunch
- Whole grain hamburger buns, whole grain hot dog buns – not always easy to find but they are available
- Whole grain crackers – Triscuits, Wheat Thins
- Brown rice or wild rice
- Whole grain pasta – if you don’t like the taste of whole grain pasta, add only some to your pasta. Start with only about 10% whole grain pasta and work up to 50%.
2 ways to know if a food is whole grain
- Ingredient list – look for whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list such as: whole wheat, whole corn, whole rye
- Look for the Whole Grain Stamp – one is for foods providing 16 grams of whole grain and all ingredients are whole grain, or 8 grams of whole grain per serving and providing some refined grain.
For a great resource on whole grains, visit Today’s Dietitian and read: Impact of Whole Grains on Health
Sources: Whole Grains Council, Replace refined grains with whole grains, Whole grains and total deaths. Image source: Whole Wheat