By: Deborah Moss, RD, CDN
We have all heard about the importance of incorporating more whole grains into our diet because of the many health benefits. Surprisingly only a small percentage of Americans consume the recommended minimum of three servings a day.
Whole grains contain protein, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. This kind of diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. They are also high in fiber, which helps keep you regular, lowers blood cholesterol, and can also make you feel fuller sooner so you eat less.
So, what exactly is a whole grain? A whole grain contains the entire seed of a plant, which is made up of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. When a food processor “refines” a grain, the bran and the germ is removed, leaving only the endosperm. Without them, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with many of the grain’s key nutrients. Most refined grains are enriched, which means some of the vitamins and minerals are added back in, however, fiber is not restored. Some examples include whole grain pasta, brown rice, breads, crackers, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, and barley.
When shopping for whole grains, look for the terms “whole” or “100% whole” grain or wheat on the package’s ingredient list. Another way to look for a whole grain is to look for the Whole Grain Council’s whole-grain stamp, which shows how many grams of whole grains are in each serving. If all of the grain is whole, the stamp also displays a 100% banner.
The amount of grains you need each day is based on your age, sex, and physical activity, but in general, adults need between 5 to 8 ounce equivalents each day. The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend that at least half your grains come from whole grains. Some examples of an ounce include 1 slice of bread, ½ cup cooked pasta or rice, and 1 cup of cereal.
For more information on whole grains and typical serving sizes, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Deborah Moss is a registered dietitian and certified dietetic nutritionist. She is the owner of Natural Nutrition and Wellness, a private nutrition counseling practice that specializes in women’s health and wellness, specifically focusing on weight management and the integration of nutrition for disease prevention and management. Deborah graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition. She completed a dietetic internship program through LIU, CW Post. She has presented nutrition and wellness classes associated with diabetes, heart disease and weight management to numerous clients through corporate wellness programs. Deborah’s goal in counseling is in helping others achieve a healthier and more balanced life.
For any diet and nutrition questions, contact Deborah at nnwellness.com!