Discovering Whole Grains: A Whole Health Boost

Ellen Haas Health Guide
  • Whole grains offer an exciting new direction to add to your cooking experiences. I like to go exploring the world of whole grains to find delicious, healthy side dishes to try for dinner (of course, whole grains are perfect for breakfast and lunch, too).


    Countless nutrition studies have pointed to real health benefits from eating a diet rich in whole grains. For example, documented studies show that stroke risk was reduced 30-36%; type 2 diabetes risk was reduced by 21-30% and heart disease risk was reduced by 25-28%.


    Whole grains also can play a positive role in your weight management. A recent Pennsylvania State University study reported that a diet with plenty of whole grains can lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases according to senior researcher on the study, Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton. In fact filling up on whole grains may curb belly fat (a problem I know about!!) when compared to dieters who ate mainly refined grains like white bread.

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    Whole grains are an important source of complex carbohydrates, fiber minerals, and B vitamins. In many cultures, they provide most of the protein in peoples diets. However, the refining process for grains results in a loss of protein content, as well as photochemical and other health-giving compounds. That is why experts recommend eating whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and barley. White bread and other products made from white flour do not retain the nutrients and fiber components of the grain.


    There are many different kinds of grains available today in the modern supermarket. Check out our Glorious Grains Guide. But not all grains are whole grains, so use the nutrition facts label to choose whole grains when you go shopping. They currently make up about 10-15% of grains on supermarket shelves. Health experts recommend that consumers eat at least half of their grains as whole grains, As a general rule, look for the whole grain label. If it doesn't say whole grain, then it probably isn't.


    What new whole grain have you tried this month?


    Whole grains are wonderful comfort foods to nourish and nurture your family. To make us feel better, my Mom always made a pot of barley soup. And what could be better than starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal. Then I love using quinoa, brown rice, bulgher wheat as favorite, fiber-packed side dishes. Here are a few whole grain dishes we enjoy at Ellen's Healthy Table.

    • Quinoa Fennel Pilaf is a touch of Latin America by Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Fenninger

    Let me know your favorite whole grain recipes.

Published On: March 10, 2008