This is kind of a followup to our last blog about healthier eating with meat-free proteins. Now we want to speak about increasing the amount of whole grains in your daily diet as well.
Eating healthy is nothing new to us, and we all know we should be eating more veggies, (certain types) and whole grains. If you’re going to or are already on an exercise regimen, then like putting the right fuel in your car you need to eat the right combinations of foods that will give you the energy you need to keep up your stamina as you task yourself in accomplishing your fitness goals.
Besides eating the right proteins and fiber enriched vegetables, don’t overlook those healthy grains that make up, or should make up the bulk of your daily intake. Remember, early man while a canoviar also gathered grains and nuts where he could find them. These grains and nuts made up a substantial part of his daily diet. Meat was a luxury, because it was hard to hunt based on location and the habits of roaming herds of beasts. Grains, which he later learned to cultivate made up the biggest portion of nutrients that he consumed as part of his daily diet. Which is what a lot of people would like to get back to in their own dietary hunt for health!
When you’re browsing your local supermarket in search of healthy grain options, it can be hard to know what’s really good for your family and what isn’t just by reading the front of a box of pasta or bag of bread.
When it comes to choosing grains, whole grains are the healthiest option — research shows that fitting more whole grains in your diet can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. In fact, in 10 different studies that analyzed whole grain intake, participants who regularly ate whole grains, were 16 percent less likely to die of any unnatural cause.
The food industry uses many different terms that might sound like whole grain to play up the nutritional quality of a product. Therefore, it’s important to know that true whole grains are made from whole seeds that are comprised of three elements:
Bran: the outer skin of the seed
Germ: the embryo, which can grow into a new plant
Endosperm: provides nutrition to the germ
Refined grain products like white flour, rice or pasta, strip the seed of the bran and germ, which reduces its amount of protein and about 17 other nutrients.
The research also showed that every 16 grams of whole grains you eat (equal to about one slice of whole grain bread or half a cup of brown rice) can noticeably reduce your cancer and cardiovascular disease risks.
“You’re supposed to eat at least three servings of whole grains every day, although most Americans get about one,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Ashley Reese, RDN, LDN, Geisinger Wellness.
Here are a few ways you can fit more whole grains into your diet in each meal:
Oatmeal is a good option, and the fiber will help keep you full. Rye bread, or toast, as long as the ingredients include whole rye or rye berries, is a good yet little-known source of whole grains.
Buckwheat Pancakes are another healthy option as long as you don’t overdo it with toppings like butter, whipped cream or syrup.
Sandwiches on whole grain bread, such as whole wheat. But keep this in mind: all whole wheat bread is whole grain, but not all whole grain bread is whole wheat.
Not only is quinoa a good whole grain source, it also happens to be a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. That’s why quinoa is an especially good option if you don’t eat meat, or are trying to limit your meat consumption. You can round out the menu with other items such as corn, whole wheat pasta, and wild or brown rice.
“If you want to snack in between meals, air-popped popcorn is a quality whole-grain, low-calorie option,” said Reese. “Just make sure to stay away from bagged microwavable popcorn, because it does have a lot of calories, sodium and other additives.”
Brown rice cakes and whole wheat crackers are other whole grain snack options. They can help bolster your daily intake of nutrients from whole grains, which include B vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron.
Watch out for certain buzzwords you’re likely to see on packaging. Just because the box or bag has a term such as “multigrain” or “seven-grain” doesn’t mean it’s actually whole grain. Make sure the nutrition facts list a whole grain flour, such as whole wheat, as the first ingredient.
An Additional 5 Tips for Adding More, Whole Grains To Your Diet
Americans should trade processed, refined grains like white flour and white rice for more whole grains like oatmeal, 100% whole-grain bread, and brown rice to help lower their risk of heart attacks and strokes, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend. Research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine concurs.
More than 40% of U.S. adults say they eat no whole grains. Following these five tips will add more whole grains to your diet and improve your health, and studies have shown that those who ate the most whole grains were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, or die of cardiovascular-related diseases.
Why, More Whole Grains?
“Consuming an average of 2.5 servings of whole grains each day is associated with a 21% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to consuming only 0.2 servings,” stated Philip Mellen, MD, lead author. “These findings suggest that we should redouble our efforts to encourage patients to include more of these foods in their diets.”
More than 40% of U.S. adults say they eat no whole grains, reported Dr. Mellen.
“Years ago, scientists hypothesized that the higher rates of chronic diseases we have in the West, including heart disease, are due, in part, to a diet full of processed foods,” Mellen said. “Subsequent studies have born that out — especially with whole grains. Greater whole grain intake is associated with less obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — major factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.”
To get more whole grains into your life, here are five simple tips:
Don’t Be Fooled By a Name
Bread labeled “nine-grain,” “multi-grain” or “wheat” are often little more than white bread in disguise. Make sure the ingredient list starts with WHOLE grain, such as whole-wheat flour. Look for 100% whole grain breads.
Experiment. (It’s Fun and Delicious!)
Why settle for wimpy white cotton bread when you can complement your sandwiches with the boldness of hearty whole-grain wheat or rye. Try other sources of whole grains, too, like brown and wild rice, oats, popcorn, barley, and more exotic but increasingly available varieties like bulgar, quinoa, and millet.
Try, Try Again
Eaten any whole-wheat pasta lately? “You may be pleasantly surprised at how tasty many brands are now,” says Dr. Jay Kenney, nutrition educator at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “A lot of people who tried whole-wheat pasta 10 to 15 years ago weren’t impressed, but much has changed since then.” If the chewiness of whole-grain pasta takes a little getting used to, start with 50% refined, 50% whole grain.
Cook One Meal For the Entire Week!
On Sunday afternoon, cook up a large pot of one of your favorite whole grains, maybe brown rice or kasha. If stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, you’ll have grains-at-the-ready for days. If they start to harden, just fluff them up with a little warm broth or water.
Throughout the week, spoon your whole grains over vegetable soups and chilies. Serve with steamed or grilled vegetables or as a side dish with your seafood. This way the brunt of your cooking is already done and you can get your daily meals prepared in a few minutes which would leave you plenty of time to work in an exercise routine after dinner….. Did I hear power-walking everyone??
Start a New Relationship
Pair cooked quinoa with a veggie salad. Make sushi with brown rice. Or cook up crunchy whole-grain cereal in your wok. Get it? Try different pairings of foods so that you’re not constantly eating the same meals over and over again. You will be less tempted to run out for that greasy burger and fries if you mix up your “Healthy” food combinations. And nothing helps add some different flavors than adding in some spices into your cooking and some of the spices can actually help you maintain your weight along with adding flavors that will keep you coming back for more… But remember, keep to your portion size and moderation is also the key.
Again, adding whole grains to your diet just makes sense, it was what early man ate and could be the reason we are all still around trying to keep ourselves at the top of the food chain. But remember, eating right is just one piece of the puzzle of being healthy. Exercising daily, on a regular routine and working on keeping those day to day stress levels down can help you live that healthy lifestyle you’re trying to achieve.
More posts will come on managing stress and some of the best exercise routines but you know what they say. The best exercises you can do are the ones that you can maintain and continue on a regular basis. Keep going, Eat Healthy and Stay the Course to a Healthier YOU!