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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

The Whole New Way of Eating Grain

What's the difference between whole grains and non-whole grains, anyways? I feel like this is a question something consumers fail to ask, but rather follow the masses blindly.

Grains are found in foods like bread, pasta, cereal, rice and oatmeal. These types of food make up a large part of the American diet and are an integral part of a well-balanced meal plan. However, there is one caveat to this recommendation. Enter: whole grains. Farmed grains such as corn, wheat, and oats are what make up these types of foods, and they are considered whole grain if they have not been milled. Milling is a process where some important nutrients are removed from the grain. This process is done to help the food last longer.

Government Recommendations

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2011, recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that's at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains. Yet, consumption lags far behind these recommendations. For example, the average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of Americans never eat whole grains at all.

Whole grains help our bodies in many ways because of the fiber, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are important to help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Fiber is important to help food to digest and gives the body a feeling that it is full after eating. This is why the government recommends we include these in our diets…they are good for our health!

So how do I find these foods?

To know if the food that you choose is whole grain, look for "100%" or "whole" in front of "wheat" or other grain. As of December 2013, the Whole Grain Stamp is now on over 9,200different products in 41 countries!


Courtesy of

Other corporations, such as General Mills, distinguish their products having whole grain with their own stamp...

Courtesy of

Looking for these symbols or reading the ingredients list for inclusion of the word "whole" before an ingredient are your best bests for determining whole grain products. There are some familiar ones and some not so familiar ones on the shelves these days! Here are some that might be NEW endeavors:

Barley: the whole grain that contains the most fiber!Barley has more protein than other whole grains. Barley is used in soups,stews and some cereals.

Quinoa contains the most potassium of all other whole grains! Quinoa can be added to many different dishes or eaten for breakfast.

Oats can be steamed and flattened to help them cook faster. These oats become softer and are known as quick or instant oats. Another type of oats is steel-cut oats, which are sliced once or twice into smaller pieces to help water get in to cook. Steel-cut oats are usually chewy.

Here are some tips for incorporating more whole grains into your diet:

  • Eating whole grain cereals
  • Changing white rice to brown rice
  • Choose whole grain spaghetti
  • Eating popcorn for a snack

What is your favorite whole grain that you like to prepare? I just tried a new one…BLACK rice!

(Note the packaging: lower left corner, it states "100% whole grain")

Trying new foods can lead to an expanded scope of nutrition and will keep healthy eating new and exciting! Try one today, like my Facebook page and tell me what whole grains you are experimenting with!

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