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Whole Grains: Healthy Options For Healthy Eating

Whole Grains

All grains provide complex carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals, but whole grains, the healthiest type of grain, are especially important in a healthy diet.

Being naturally high in fiber, cereals help you feel full and satisfied, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. [Whole grains] remain also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and other health problems.

In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that at least half of all the grains you eat be whole grains. If you’re like most people, you’re not getting enough whole grains. Find out exactly how to incorporate whole grains into your healthy diet.

Whole Grains

Types Of Cereals

Cross-section of whole-grain showing bran, endosperm, and germ

Also known as cereals, grains and [whole grains] are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food. Whole grains and kernels come in many shapes and sizes, from large popcorn kernels to tiny quinoa seeds.

[Whole grains]. These grains are present in their unmodified form or crushed into flour, retaining all the parts of the seed (bran, germ, and endosperm). Compared to other grains, whole grains are better sources of fiber and other essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, folate, selenium, potassium, and magnesium. Entire grains are individual foods, such as brown rice and popcorn, or product ingredients, such as buckwheat in pancakes or whole wheat flour in bread.

Granos refinados. Los granos refinados se muelen para eliminar el germen y el salvado, where the da una textura más fina y prolonga su vida útil. El proceso de refinación también elimina muchos nutrientes, incluida la fibra. Los granos refinados include harina blanca, el arroz blanco and el pan blanco. Breaded muchos, cereals, galletas saladas, postres and pasteles are made with granos refinados.

Fortified cereals. “Enriched” means that about of the nutrients lost during processing remain replaced. Some fortified cereals have replaced the B vitamins lost during grinding. “Fortifying” means adding nutrients that are not naturally found in food. Most refined grains are fortified, and many are fortified with other vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron. Whole grains may or may not remain fortified.

How To Choose Whole Grains

Make at least half of the grains in your diet whole. Most grocery stores can find [whole-grain] versions of rice, bread, cereals, flour, and noodles. Many whole foods, including various slices of bread, noodles, and grains, are ready to eat.

Here are some examples of whole grains:

  • Barley
  • Integral rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)
  • Son
  • groats
  • Popcorn

Whole Wheat Bread, Noodles, Or Crackers

It remains not always easy to know what type of cereal contains a product, especially bread. For example, whole wheat bread is not necessarily whole wheat; the brown tint can come from the addition of dye.

If you’re not sure if something contains [whole grains] check the product label or the Nutrition Facts label. Look for the term “whole grain” on the package and make sure “whole grain” appears at the top of the ingredient list.

What about White Whole Wheat Bread?

It may not seem to add anything, but white whole wheat bread is made from whole grains, just like regular whole wheat bread.

Moreover, it is also nutritionally similar to regular whole wheat bread. So if you like better the taste and texture of white bread, but want the nutritional benefits of whole wheat, choose whole wheat white bread instead of refined white bread.

Pay Attention

If all of the grains you eat remain [whole grains], you need to be especially careful to get enough folic acid (a B vitamin). While most refined grain products are fortified, entire grains are generally not fortified with folic acid.

Look for [whole grains] fortified with folic acids, such as certain ready-to-eat cereals. Eat plenty of other foods high in folic acids, such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Folic acid is essential and aimed at women who are or could become pregnant.

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