Whole Grains: A Healthier Alternative to Refined, Processed Foods

Have you ever wondered how important it is to eat whole grain foods? As it turns out, whole grains are essential for a healthy, nutritious diet.

Whole grains are wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or other cereal grains that have not been refined. Technically, to classify a food as a whole grain it needs to include all parts of the grain. Whole grains are products that haven’t been refined, so they include more of the healthy, high-fiber, vitamin and mineral packed portion of the grain. Whole grains are “complex” carbohydrates which are the “good” kind of carbohydrates. They keep you fuller longer than refined, simple carbohydrates (the “bad” kind of carbs) because they take longer to digest.

Warm Collard & Jalapeno Ranch Dip Warm Collard & Jalapeno Ranch Dip

 

In addition to keeping you fuller longer, whole grains are also healthier – they’re a better source of fiber and essential minerals potassium and magnesium. (NutritionData.com) Diets high in whole grains have been linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer – as well as a reduced risk of weight gain. (Robarts Research Institute) Even though there are many health benefits to eating whole grains instead of processed, refined grains, less than half of all grains on supermarket shelves are truly “whole.” So how do you know if you’re getting whole grains? Check the label. Something that says “multigrain” may only have a tiny bit of whole wheat flour, and the rest white, refined flour. If a product doesn’t say “100 percent whole grain” then it isn’t whole grain. Foods can be labeled “multigrain” and still be packed with refined grains – and lots of salt and even sugar. Look for the grams of fiber – products with at least 3 grams of fiber are your best bet. Tired of searching grocery aisles for whole grain products? Now there’s an internet-based search engine application that makes it easy for shoppers to find whole grain foods. Learn more about the Whole Grain Stamp app. Many people find the taste and texture of whole grains to be enjoyable and more satisfying than refined and processed grain products. Here are some suggested ways to get started eating more whole grains to improve your health. Start Gradually The easiest way to get started is by replacing your processed white bread products with whole grain products. Try replacing your white bread, white rice and breakfast cereals with their whole grain counterparts. Whole Grain Pasta & Rice There are many types of whole grain pasta on the market these days. Try whole wheat, rice and even quinoa pasta. Brown and wild rice are a great replacement for white. Try brown basmati rice for a pleasant, nutty flavor.

Italian-Style Quinoa Loaf Italian-Style Quinoa Loaf

 

Try New Types of Whole Grains There are so many more whole grains on the market than just wheat, rice and cereal. Here are some suggested alternatives to get you started.

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (brown and other flavors)
  • Rye
  • Sourghum
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Wheat, including spelt, emmer, faro, Kamut, durum, bulgar, cracked wheat and wheatberries
  • Wild rice
Mushroom and White Wine Penne Ingredients Mushroom and White Wine Penne Ingredients

 

Watch out for added salt in pre-flavored rice and grain mixes. Instead, buy plain brown rice and other whole grains and use the extensive list of Litehouse Foods Instantly Fresh Herbs for tons of flavor (but not tons of sodium.) The Litehouse Bloggers recognize the importance of including whole grains in your diet. Many of their recipes include whole grain ingredients. Here are some delicious, satisfying recipes that will help you on your way to good health by incorporating whole grains into temptingly-irresistible meals. Mushroom & White Wine Penne Apple Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese Butternut Squash Pasta Bake Spinach and Parmesan Turkey Burgers Italian-Style Quinoa Loaf Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Savory Greek Yogurt Gobbetti with Olives What is your favorite whole grain meal?

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