Enjoy an Extra Helping of Whole-Grains
There continues to be discussion these days about which grains to eat, and whether wheat is a healthy grain or not. The sale of gluten-free foods is at an all-time high but projected to grow further to the tune of over $10 billion in sales by 2026.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that some folks are unable to digest, for example, those with celiac disease. But for those who can digest grains - and that means most of us- there are a wonderful variety of whole grains to enjoy. Some contain gluten and some are gluten-free. Whole-grains can be part of a meal as a side dish or the feature of a meatless meal.
Research has shown over the years that for those people who include whole-grains in their diet on a regular basis, there may be a reduced risk of developing:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
Whole-grains are an excellent source of a number of key nutrients including:
- Dietary fiber
- Minerals such as iron and magnesium
- Vitamins such as folate and other B-vitamins
Examples of whole-grains include, but are not limited to:
- Amaranth (gluten-free)
- Brown rice (gluten-free)
- Buckwheat (gluten-free)
- Cornmeal (gluten-free)
- Oats (gluten-free)
- Quinoa (gluten-free)
- Wild rice (gluten-free)
From a health perspective, it is important to eat whole-grains every day in modest servings. Don't be afraid of them. If you are eating a vegetarian meal, a 1-cup serving of cooked grains such as farro, quinoa or wild rice will provide between 6- 8 grams protein; that is equal to 1-ounce of animal protein. It is great to start your children out on whole grains so that they are accustomed to eating them. For the most part, they will eat what you eat, and eat what is available in your home.
Interested in expanding whole-grains in your weekly menu planning?
For breakfast consider:
- cooked oat-quinoa cereal or whole-grain cold cereals
- whole-grain English muffin or bagel with peanut butter
For lunch consider:
- sandwiches on whole wheat or multi-grain bread, rolls or wraps
- hummus with whole-grain crackers or pita chips
For dinner consider:
- meatless white bean and brown rice soup
- bell peppers stuffed with barley or wild rice
- veggie stir fry served over brown rice
- farro salad with feta cheese
By: Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE, Martha Jefferson Hospital