True or false: If a grain is brown it is whole grain?
To get our plates into shape, we need to have a little chat about whole grains. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends getting half your grains as whole grains. This would mean whole grain rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, etc. I think it’s safe to say we are all pretty much aware of the benefits of whole grains, but in case you aren’t let me give you a quick run down…
Whole grains and fiber can support healthy cholesterol levels, maintain an appropriate blood pressure range, contribute to healthy blood sugars, and may help with weight loss.
So now that you are all convinced you want to make the switch to whole grains lets do some some shopping! So let me run over to the store to pick up my Granny Sycamores wheat bread. I’m set right?
Here we must learn a lesson about reading labels. If you read the label of Granny Sycamore bread the first ingredient is wheat flour. Does this mean it’s whole grain? Not exactly. The tricky thing is when bread is processed certain parts of the grain are removed and may or may not be added back.
This picture gives you a good idea of what a whole grain looks like and what nutrients we get where. During processing of refined grain products (poptarts and white bread) everything is removed but the flour. But if you notice it is the bran that gives us the fiber that contributes to all those amazing benefits of eating whole grain!
So what you would like to see when shopping is a label that looks more like this:
You can see there the second ingredient specifically says 100% whole grain. So moral of the story: read labels and look for that 100% part.
So are multi-grain, 7 seed, or stone ground breads whole grain? I don’t know? You read the label and you tell me! Every brand can vary so don’t assume just because it is brown or looks healthy that it is really the best choice.
Final tip for getting our plates into shape is pay attention to fiber content in foods. If you are a white flour lover and the thought of eating whole grain makes you cry, make a gradual switch and pick your battles.
- Brown rice vs white rice: There is only a 1 gram difference in fiber content and cooking the two rices are different so don’t try combining the two or plan some extra time to cook your brown rice.
- Whole wheat pasta vs regular: Depending on the brand, the fiber difference can be up to 5 grams! This is a switch I would highly recommend making. Cooking whole wheat pasta is exactly the same so if you have stubborn eaters, cook half and half. Good health requires compromise sometimes!
- Whole wheat bread vs white bread: Fiber content can vary 2-4 grams. Check labels and try to buy loaves with at least 3 grams of fiber. 4-5 would be ideal though!
- Whole wheat cereal vs. regular cereals: This is another one where the fiber difference can be up to 5 grams. However the switch is great with Chex or other grain cereals, just because Trix and Lucky Charms are now made with “whole grain” doesn’t mean they are good for you!