Healthy Eating by Shelby Shelby
Celebrate Whole Grains This Month
We have all heard that whole grains are a healthy option, but have you ever wondered what makes a grain whole?
Grains make up some of our favorite foods, like bread, pancakes, and muffins. They can be broken down into two basic types: refined grains and whole grains. Refined grains are highly processed by food companies to make them taste light and to make them more shelf stable. To do this, food companies remove the grain’s fiber leaving a white grain, like white bread or white rice. On the other hand, whole grains are left intact, leaving them full of fiber and nutrients. These nutritious grains include whole wheat bread, oats, and brown rice.
The dietary guidelines recommend that at least half of the grains you eat should come from whole grain foods. This is because they are better sources of fiber when compared to their refined counterparts. Fiber found in whole grains is a powerhouse nutrient that has many benefits for our health. First, fiber can help to fill you up at a meal and prevent overeating. Second, fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and protect your heart. Lastly, fiber is a prebiotic which keeps your intestines happy and healthy. Unfortunately, most Americans only eat half of the fiber they need each day. Follow these two steps when grocery shopping to see if your grains are whole grains:
Look at the nutrition facts label. Whole grains should have more dietary fiber than refined grains. Check for the % daily value beside dietary fiber. For a food to be high in fiber, it should be near or above 20% of the daily value of dietary fiber per serving.
Look at the ingredients list. On a whole grain product check out the first few ingredients. The first ingredient should say “whole” to indicate you truly have a product that is made with whole grains. Examples are: whole wheat flour, whole grain oats, or whole grain brown rice.