The new 2010 Dietary guidelines for Americans recommend we get at least three servings of whole grains per day, yet studies show Americans average less than one serving daily. When I discuss this with my clients, many of them tell me that they have a hard time identifying whole grains and are not really sure of their benefits. This isn’t surprising; with so many opinions regarding carbohydrates, grains and what to eat floating around the net, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Here’s the help you need on why you should include whole grains in your diet and how to get the recommended three servings per day.
Why Whole Grains?
There is a reason we encourage eating a diet that includes a variety of foods. One of those reasons is that a varied diet is more likely to be adequate in nutrients. Eating whole grains are a great way to get a variety of nutrients. Whole grains contain numerous compounds that help promote health, such as protein, fiber, antioxidant phytonutrients, B-vitamins and many trace minerals including iron, zinc, copper and magnesium. Research is also supporting a diet rich in whole grains in the fight against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a variety of cancers. Whole-grains diets also help maintain regular bowel movements and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.
To make sure your grain is a whole grain use these clues:
1.) Look for the word “whole grain” on the front of the package or in the ingredients list. If it says 100% wheat that is not a whole grain. It must say “100% whole wheat” to be considered a whole grain.
2.) Check for the FDA-approved health claim or for the product to list the grams of whole grain in the product. The health claim will read, “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.” This is found on products that contain at least 51% whole grain ingredients (by weight) and are also low in fat.
3.) Look for these whole grain foods to include in your diet: whole oats/oatmeal, popcorn, brown or wild rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, wheat berries, whole wheat couscous.
Remember to fill ¼ of your plate with whole grains, ¼ with lean proteins, ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables and include a serving of low-fat dairy and healthy fats to build a healthy meal.