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The whole story on whole grains

Posted by Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Friday, November 8, 2013

Have you heard the recommendation to make half the grains you consume each day whole grains? It’s not always easy deciphering what constitutes a whole grain so let’s dive into what it really is and how to get your fill.

Whole grains are complex carbohydrates rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber. The term “whole” means that all three parts of the grain are present—germ, bran, and endosperm. A whole grain can be crushed, rolled, cracked, or even ground into flour as long as the end product contains all original parts of the seed. Whole grains include oats, corn, bulgur, brown and wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, and many more.

anatomy of a grainOther types of grains, such as refined and enriched, don’t offer the same nutritional qualities as whole grains. Refined grains remove the bran and germ of the grain, leaving the starchy inner layer. For enriched grains, some of the nutrients that were lost in the milling process are added back in, but this doesn’t bring back the fiber found in the original seed. Examples of non-whole grains include white flour, white rice, and certain types of breads and pastas.

The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half of the grains we eat should come from whole grain sources (about 48 grams per day). Unfortunately, most Americans don’t hit that mark. In fact, less than 5 percent of us consume the minimum recommended amount.

Eating more whole grains can lead to a number of health benefits. According to the Whole Grains Council, eating more whole grains is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. It also helps us control weight and maintain proper levels of cholesterol and blood glucose.

A good way to ensure you’re eating whole grains is to look for the word “whole” next to the grain name, like whole wheat. Another test is to look for the Whole Grains Council stamp or other FDA-approved health claims on the package.

If you’re looking to add more whole grains to your diet, I encourage you to try our new collection of Lunds and Byerly’s grains and rice blends. We’ve developed 12 rice blends and nine single-ingredient, culturally authentic rices and grains—many of which feature whole grains. From the familiar to the exotic, they will provide you with mealtime inspiration filled with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

With more of us striving to serve family and friends creative, delicious, and wholesome cuisines, these grains and rice blends are perfect options for side dishes or as a base for main dishes.

As you’re shopping our aisles for whole grains, remember to keep an eye on the package labels and be sure to try a few whole grains you haven’t experienced yet; you might just love it!

Tags: grainsriceswhole grain

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