There is a lot of controversy in the media over whole grains. Some wonder whether or not they will cause weight gain, and what the health benefits are. Labels can even make it difficult to identify a whole grain. Whole grains are an important part of a nutritious diet and there are many benefits that whole grains can provide to your health. Let’s go over the basics: whole grains vs. refined grains, how much you need, and where you can find it.
Whole grains vs. Refined grains
Whole grains are grains which have not gone through the milling process. Milling removes most of the nutrients in a grain including fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E and minerals (aka all the good stuff).
Refined grains have been stripped from the bran and germ. Products of refined grains are white flour, white rice and many packaged products. Refined grains are used often in processed foods due to their longer shelf life.
How much do I need?
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans at least half of your grains should be whole grains. Recommendations for the average adult are 6 oz of grains per day. This is only a recommendation, you can always set a goal of all of your servings to be whole grain.
How to incorporate whole grains in a meal plan
Try the whole grain options listed above in side dishes, salads or incorporated into your entree. When looking at the nutrition label, look for the words whole grain, whole wheat, whole [other grain], oats ore wheat-berries. If the ingredients have the words enriched flour, germinated, bran or wheat germ. You are NOT getting a whole grain product.
Examples of whole grains
Brown and wild rice