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Celebrate Whole Grains Month for All of September!

Written by: Nadeen Risi, MS, RDN, LDN

Get up, get out of your chair, and start including more whole grains into your meals, because September is all about whole grains. What exactly is a whole grain? If you walk out into a field of wheat, those kernels or seeds at the top of the plant would be considered a type of whole grain. However, wheat is only one kind of whole grain. There are many varieties such as oatmeal, corn, rice, buckwheat, and so much more. In the nutrition world, one constant recommendation is to include more whole grains into your day, but the response usually is “Why?” When the whole grain is broken down into its individual components, each part provides something different and beneficial. Whole grains are high in complex carbohydrates and are rich in fiber. They also contain large amounts of B vitamins. They are good sources of iron, zinc, and magnesium. Moreover, they are rich in vitamin E and selenium, which are antioxidants that help protect our bodies against damage, such as cancer.

Parts of a whole grain:

  • Bran: the outermost layer of the grain. It provides some of the vitamin B and a wonderful source of insoluble fiber – the type of fiber that aids with gut regularity.
  • Endosperm: the middle layer, primarily providing complex carbohydrates.
  • Germ: the innermost portion of the grain, where a new plant would develop if planted. This part is providing the most nutrition – rich in antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making at least half of your grains whole grains. It is encouraged that the average adult obtains 20-30 grams of fiber per day with some adult men needing up to 38 grams. The guidelines estimate that most Americans are only getting around 13 grams per day. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber to include in everyday cooking and can be fast, easy and cost-effective. To ensure the product is a whole grain, look for WHOLE grain or wheat as the first ingredient as opposed to ENRICHED wheat.

Here are some wonderful ideas on including more whole grains into your day:

1. Overnight oats: Take ⅓ cup of oats and whisk with ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt and ⅓ cup milk (of your choice). Add a little honey and some fruit and let it sit overnight so you have breakfast ready in the morning.

2. Avocado toast: Whole wheat or rye toast with ½ an avocado smashed on it. Add some tomato or scrambled egg for extra flavor.

3. Use whole wheat tortillas for tacos or a wrap.

4. Add some brown rice, quinoa or barley for stir-fry instead of white rice.

5. Whole grain pasta tossed in your favorite sauce.

6. Chia seed pudding: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of chia seed with 1 cup milk of your choice and 1 teaspoon of honey. Let it sit in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes. Add some berries and you have dessert.

Whole grains are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and there are many small ways to boost your intake. Work with one of our Avance Primary Care dietitians for tips and recipes to include more whole grains on a more daily basis.

Nadeen Risi is the registered dietitian for the Apex and Cary Avance Care locations. She recently has been focusing her attention to training for the national fitness competition, CG Games, with her team. When she is not training or working, she is spending her time with her husband Steven and their three dogs, Harley, Gunner, and Diesel. She also enjoys traveling to new places and trying as many new foods and restaurants as she can.

Categories: Education
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