As Americans, we love our carbs, but is it possible that we love them too much? Think about MyPlate.gov and remember that only about 25% of a meal should be a grain. Keep in mind, not all grains are created equal.
Two types of grains: whole and refined
Whole grains are created how nature intended with the entire grain kernel (the bran, germ and endosperm) intact. These parts contain fiber, iron and B vitamins. Refined grains are milled, taking away the healthy kernel. Then, they’re bleached through a chemical process.
When a grain is broken down finely, the body processes white pasta, white bread, white rice or refined cereal exactly like sugar. The body quickly stores it as fat.
The fiber content of whole grains slows down digestion or how food moves through the body. Fiber allows the body to use carbs in a better way. Fiber helps lessen constipation and improve health.
Here are some examples of whole grains.
Some of these items might sound unfamiliar, but they’re becoming more popular:
- Whole-wheat flour
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole cornmeal
- Brown rice
- Rolled oats
- Whole-grain barley
- Whole rye
Tips for eating whole grains
- Always try to use a whole grain product instead of a refined carb.
- Whole grains, such as barley or bulgur wheat, are great additions to mixed dishes, such as soups or stir fries.
- Any baked good can be made healthier by replacing at least half of the refined grain with whole-wheat flour or oats. Pancakes and waffles are great with whole-wheat flour.
- Snacks don’t always have to be refined. Most products, such as crackers and tortilla chips, have whole-grain options.
- Can you believe that popcorn is a whole grain? The low-salt and non-butter varieties are a great snack choice.
- See the whole-grain recipe section of our website for more ideas.
If you’ve tried your best and your kids or your spouse just won’t try whole grains, certain brands of pasta and white bread now come with added fiber. See if you can slip these past them.