Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
Go For Whole Grains!
Celebrate National Nutrition Month by brushing up on your knowledge of what healthy eating really means! According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a healthy diet involves eating all five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommends adults consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, switch to non-fat or low-fat dairy products, limit added sugars and saturated fats, and shift towards eating more whole grain foods. Specifically, about half of all grains consumed should be whole grains.
So, what’s the difference between a whole grain or a refined (also called processed) grain? A whole grain contains the entire grain kernel and is made up of three layers including the bran or outer layer, the endosperm or middle layer, and the germ or inner layer. According to the Dietary Guidelines For Americans, the outer layer is rich in fiber and contains B vitamins and trace minerals, the middle layer contains carbohydrates and some proteins, and the inner layer is filled with many nutrients including antioxidants, Vitamin E, B vitamins and healthy fats.
Unlike a whole grain, a refined grain is processed, meaning parts of the grain are removed. A refined grain only contains the endosperm, or middle layer, so much of the nutrients that benefit your body are taken away when grains are processed.
Eating whole grains along with a healthy diet can help reduce the risk for developing some chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes. To add more whole grains to your diet, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends these tips:
- Make Simple Shifts – Try choosing 100% whole grain bread, bagels, or pasta instead of white bread, bagels or pasta. Change one or two things at a time until you’ve made half of your grains whole grains.
- Check The Label – Read the ingredients list to be sure you’re choosing whole grain foods. Foods that are 100% whole grain usually list whole grains as the first ingredient or the second ingredient, after water.
- Have A Whole Grain Snack – Popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack when made with little salt and no butter. Other whole grain snack options include whole wheat or rye crackers and brown rice cakes.
- Modify Your Baking Recipes – Try substituting buckwheat or oat flour in your favorite pancake or waffle recipes in place of white flour.
- Plan Ahead – Cook extra brown rice or quinoa during your free time and refrigerate half of it to enjoy later in the week. This makes it easier to add extra whole grains to your meals.
If you would like to learn more, attend a special program on ‘Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping’ presented by Erika Winney MS RD CDN, Littauer’s Clinical Nutrition Manager on March 27 in Littauer’s Auditorium.
You are invited to join us for a buffet-style luncheon at 11:30 for $6 or attend the presentation only at 12 noon at no charge. To attend, call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.