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by Jennifer Mayer & Terri Mendoza

September marks Whole Grains Month!  You probably already know that whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet.  Here are just a few reasonWGs why keeping the grain whole is worth celebrating:

  • Whole grains are high in fiber, which helps keep you full and your blood sugar stable
  • They are loaded with vitamins and minerals that refined grains—such as white bread—don’t have
  • They help lower cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease

So, what exactly is a whole grain?  A whole grain is one that has not been processed and therefore contains all of its original nutrients from the bran, germ, and endosperm.

Eating whole grain versions of your household favorites, such as whole grain pasta, is just a start in making sure your family is getting enough. Did you know that popcorn is also considered a whole grain??  With so many options, it can be affordable and easy to add whole grains into your meals.  Be careful though—a lot of brands add brown sugar or caramel coloring to their products to make them appear brown and “whole grain,” when they hardly contain any whole grains!  Look for a “whole grain” stamp from the Whole Wheat Council, which means at least half of the grains in that food are whole.  Read below for alternatives to get more whole grains into your day!

 

Eat less of these REFINED grains… And more of these WHOLE grains!
White bread Whole wheat bread
Instant or white rice Cooked brown rice
Pretzels Plain air-popped popcorn,
Chicken noodle soup Cooked Lentils,
Sugary breakfast cereal Cooked steel cut oatmeal (unflavored)
White pasta Cooked Whole wheat pasta

 

Sugar Snap Pea & Brown Rice Salad           

Serves: 6        

Adapted from Eating Well         

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, sliced with ends cut off
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add brown rice and bring back to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 5 minutes, or according to package directions. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Transfer brown rice to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss.  Chill in refrigerator for several hours, then enjoy!

Ready to add whole grains to your diet?  Share your tips with us!

Jennifer Mayer is a dietetic intern at Tufts Medical Center.

 

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