Fit Factor: The Importance of a Whole Grain Diet
For many of us, our diet takes a back seat when our lives become busy and stressful. This leads us to consume more processed meals and snacks on the go. While these foods can be cheap and convenient, they have also been stripped of some of their nutritional value. Whole grain products rather than foods that have been refined (or processed) are significantly better for your body. Whole grains have seventeen vitamins and minerals that are naturally in the whole grain, while refined grains only have five, which are added back in during manufacturing. Shifting your diet towards more whole grains can be done inexpensively and can also add more variety into your meals.
Why are whole grains so good for you? Whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight because they take longer to digest and therefore keep you satiated longer. Having a whole grain breakfast and lunch will keep you from snacking later in the day. For people living with a bleeding disorder, maintaining a healthy weight is even more beneficial as it takes pressure off the joints. Additionally, the high fiber content found in whole grains helps with digestion. It prevents constipation and therefore the body naturally cleans itself of waste. Studies have shown that eating a high fiber diet lowers the levels of cholesterol in the body.
Eating a diet rich in whole grains can be cheap and easy! Here are a few suggestions for introducing more whole grains into your diet:
- Substitute whole grain products for processed foods. Whole grain options are easily available for nearly all our staple foods, like brown rice and whole grain pasta, bread, tortillas and cereal. There are many varieties to choose from, particularly with bread and cereal products.
- Keep in mind that whole grains take longer to cook. Soaking brown rice or other grains first will cut down on the cooking time.
- Add variety to your meals by experimenting with different whole grains. You can find an assortment in the bulk food aisle of your grocery store. To keep them fresh, store your whole grains in the refrigerator.
- Because packaging can be confusing, check the ingredients on the label to ensure that “whole grain or whole wheat” is listed (make sure it’s at the top since they are listed in order of amount). For example, if it lists wheat flour, it’s not necessarily whole wheat.
- Since most healthy meals take at least a little time to prepare, consider making large “batches” at once so that you can eat it for multiple meals throughout the week. Move leftovers from the refrigerator to the freezer after 3-4 days.
- Mix oats into baked goods, like cookies, muffins and scones, to make them more nutritious.
Make your own whole grain granola!
Maple Pecan Granola
|2 cup oats (not instant)||1 cup pecans|
|¼ cup pure maple syrup||¼ cup dried cranberries|
|¼ cup oil||1 teaspoon salt|
|1 teaspoon cinnamon|
|Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Combine oats, pecans, cinnamon and salt. Whisk oil and maple syrup in a separate bowl. Mix all ingredients together and spread into single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Add dried cranberries when finished|
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