Why you should eat more whole grains like quinoa, farro and oats

The fear of carbohydrates, and especially grains, is still strong, with many people believing that eating foods like bread, pasta and rice will lead to weight gain, high blood sugar levels and more. As a nutritionist, I hear this almost every day.

While most Americans meet or exceed the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates, with 74% consuming too many refined grains, only 2% actually get enough whole grains. It’s really important to understand that not all carbohydrates, and especially not all grain products, are the same.

Whole grains are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Depriving them long-term means losing these benefits and often leads to unsustainable eating habits. For a nutrient-dense and healthier eating pattern, you may want to consider adding more of these nutrients to your meals.

Unlike refined grains, such as white flour, whole grains contain the whole grain, so they retain their natural vitamins, fiber, healthy fats and more.

A new study presented at the Nutrition 2024 conference looked at the benefits of choosing whole grains over refined grains and how the nutritional value of wheat changes as it moves from farm to table, raw kernel to specifically cooked bread, you just have a big loss in minerals and vitamins because you’re removing the germ and the bran, which is where the vitamins and minerals are located, David Killilea, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told Yahoo Life.

Killilea added: We saw minerals decrease by 50% to 80% just by going from the whole grain option to the refined option.

So what are some examples of whole grains? Here are the different types:

  • Whole wheat flour, bread, pasta and crackers

  • Whole grain cereals

  • Black, brown, purple and red rice

  • Oats

  • Corn and cornmeal

  • Kuino

  • Farro

  • barley

  • Einkorn

  • Freekeh

  • Amaranth

  • Bulgur

  • millet

Whole grains provide carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, along with essential nutrients like B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium, potassium, and antioxidants like vitamin E. And while they’re good, whole grains are rich in starch, a type of carb that dreads fiber. Their nutritional content makes them a major source of energy for our bodies.

Whole grains are also an easy and nutritious way to meet your daily fiber needs. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), the average American consumes only about 58% of the recommended daily fiber. Just one cup of cooked whole wheat pasta has more than twice the amount of fiber as regular pasta, providing 5.5 grams compared to less than 2 grams per serving. The DGA recommends that adult women up to age 50 consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams, and including whole grains can help meet these goals.

Fiber in whole grains can help better manage blood sugar levels, lower LDL (aka bad cholesterol), lower blood pressure, support gut health, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Plus, whole grains can keep you feeling fuller for longer, alleviating hunger and supporting weight management.

How many whole grains do you need per day?

The DGA recommends that at least half of the total grains you eat in a day come from 100% whole grains. It is recommended that adults consume at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains per day.

So what exactly is a single serving of whole grains? Here’s what it looks like:

  • cup of cooked grains or pasta

  • 1 slice of bread

  • an english muffin

  • 1 6-inch chapati or roti (both Indian breads), or corn or whole wheat tortilla

  • 2 3-inch diameter pancakes

  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

  • 3 cups of popcorn

Whole grains have a wide variety of flavors, textures and versatility, making them easy to add to both sweet and savory dishes, for example, oatmeal with cinnamon and fruit or stuffed whole grain bread with an egg and grated cheese.

Shake up your regular salad by adding a third or half cup of whole grains, such as wheat berries or farro, which not only boost nutrients, flavor and texture, but also make the meal more complete and satisfying by helping preventing hunger immediately afterwards. Likewise, adding a spoonful of barley to vegetable soup can have a similar effect.

And if you’re looking to switch from refined grains to whole grains, start by making small changes one grain and one meal at a time. Instead of coming up with a whole new recipe for dinner, try substituting quinoa or black rice for white rice, or using a whole wheat tortilla instead of a white flour tortilla at your next taco night.

Maxine Yeung is a board-certified nutritionist and health and wellness coach.

#eat #grains #quinoa #farro #oats
Image Source : www.yahoo.com

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