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Choose whole grain foods more often

Posted 8/20/2015

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (DGA) are the foundation for Federal dietary guidance aimed at improving the health of Americans. In this time of rampaging obesity rates and diet-related diseases, communicating the DGA messages in a manner that will be used by consumers could not be more important. One key message is “Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole Grains.”

In promoting the whole grain message, it’s important to understand why we should eat more whole grain products. Whole grains are important because they provide many nutrients that have been stripped from refined grain products. Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel—the germ, the bran and the endosperm—and offer more nutrients than refined or enriched grains like selenium, potassium and magnesium. The fiber in whole grains (from the germ and bran) helps maintain the health of your digestive system. Fiber can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

Use these tips to help you include more whole grains in your diet:

  • Read the label! Check the Nutrition Facts label to learn the amount of fiber a grain product supplies. If the label shows a Daily Value (DV) of 10 percent to 19 percent of fiber offer it’s a good source, while excellent sources offer 20% or more of the day’s requirement.
  • The ingredient list on a food label shows ingredients in the order of the most abundant by weight. Look for foods that show whole grains listed first on the ingredient list.
  • Switch out whole for refined. Choose brown rice instead of white rice or whole wheat crackers in place of refined. Use whole grain pasta the next time you make a pasta salad. Try corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas.
  • Snack on whole grains. Whole grain crackers, granola and pretzels make great snacks. So does pop corn with little or no added butter or salt.
  • Add whole grains to other foods. Try adding barley or brown rice to soups or casseroles. Replace up to half the refined flour in muffins, pancakes or waffles with whole grain flour. You may need to add more leavening.
  • Try adding whole grain granola to your yogurt. Yum!

Email or call Susan Lednicky, Nutritionist with Clark County Cooperative Extension, at 702-257-5548.

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