September is Whole Grains Month. Do you include plenty of whole grains in the foods you eat? If not, you may want to consider making some changes. Whole-grain foods are packed with nutrients that can add a “layer” of protection to your health.

Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals, tortillas and grits are all examples of grain-rich products. Whenever possible, choose whole-grain versions of these foods. Whole grains are healthier than refined grains – providing more protein, fiber and many important vitamins and minerals. Doctors urge adults to eat at least half of their daily grain intake as whole grains.

Check out this article from health.com to learn of 18 benefits of whole grains. Some of the benefits include:

  • Fiber – Helps you digest your food slower which can mean you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
  • Digestion – Encourages proper digestion throughout the day.
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure – Can help lower both.
  • Weight – Can help maintain or control your weight.
  • Blood sugar – Can help regulate your blood sugar.

Okay. So you’re ready to make some changes in your diet to include whole-grain foods. How do you know if the foods you are buying contain whole grains? Look closely at the nutrition labels. It can be tricky to understand the whole grain content of some foods, for example, wheat bread. Here are two tips to help you know whether you are getting whole grains in your foods:

  1. Look for the word “whole” in the title of an ingredient; particularly “whole-grain” or “whole-wheat.”
  2. Make sure the “whole-grain” ingredient(s) appear near the beginning of the ingredient list; preferably within the first three ingredients.

Did you know?

The color of a grain or bread product does not indicate that a product is a whole-grain food. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients.

If you don’t currently include whole-grain foods in your meals, start slow. You or other members of your family may need some time to adjust to an all whole-grain diet.

TIP:

At first, try mixing whole and non-whole-grain foods in your recipes and meals. Then, gradually increase the amount of whole grains each time. For example, when making spaghetti, mix regular and whole-grain pasta in your recipe the first time you use whole-wheat pasta. Each time you make spaghetti after that, gradually use more whole-wheat pasta until you are using only whole-wheat pasta.

What types of grains should I choose?

To help you get started on a diet based more on whole-grain foods, here are some everyday foods that are easy to find at your local grocery store:

  • Brown or wild rice
  • 100% whole-wheat flour
  • Popcorn
  • 100% whole-grain bread
  • Whole-wheat pasta or noodles
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain tortillas or whole-corn tortillas
  • Whole-grain crackers

There you have it – the scoop on whole grains! Reap the benefits of whole-grain foods, and make sure some of these foods are on your grocery list the next time you do your grocery shopping.

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