Grains - An Essential Part of a Healthy Diet
Carbohydrates are our body's main source of energy. Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet, they provide fiber which maintains intestinal health, aids in weight management, decrease blood cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Grains also provide many nutrients including thiamin, iron, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and selenium which keeps our nervous system, immune system and metabolism healthy. According to the USDA food guide pyramid adults should consume between 6-8oz. per day of grains, and at least half of this amount should come from whole grains.
Grains that have not been refined are called whole grains (this means that they have not had their germ and bran removed) where most of the fiber, protein and nutrients are.
Whole grains are filling and satisfying and contain B vitamins that work synergistically to properly metabolize carbohydrates. Manufacturers add synthetic vitamins to processed grains to enrich them but this doesn't replace what was naturally present in whole grains.
HOW TO INCORPORATE HEALTHY GRAINS TO YOUR DIET
- Swap white breads with whole grain or even better sprouted grain breads.(Sprouting releases vital nutrients making them more readily available for the body). Try layering them with nut butters and bananas for a healthy afternoon snack that is sure to keep you going for the rest of the day.
- Use whole wheat or sprouted tortillas instead of white processed ones for a healthy and delicious burrito
- Enjoy steel cut oats for breakfast (oatmeal in it's natural form) or try other whole grains like barley, quinoa, winter berries, farro or even brown rice to make a nutritious hot cereal, and don't forget to add toppings like low fat milk, yogurt, fresh berries raw nuts and cinnamon to keep it exciting. Not only does this make a delicious breakfast, but you will be starting the day with essential nutrients and fiber.
- Exchange white pasta for the whole grain varieties.
- Instead of white rice, expand your horizons with black, red, wild and brown rices. Not only are they full of flavor but packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Try replacing noodles for barley, brown rice or winter wheat in soups for a satisfying healthy meal.
- You can even add whole grains to salads, try quinoa and farro to increase the nutritional value of your meal.
- Substitute white flour for whole wheat, oat, spelt or quinoa flour when making pancakes or homemade breads.
- Use whole grain or sprouted English muffins for making individual pizzas. Kids love them! Try topping them with tomato sauce and low fat mozzarella. You can even add chicken, veggies and olives to increase the nutritional value.
- Try a different grain ever week: Quinoa, teff, farro,barley etc... The sky is the limit!
I'm a specialist in fitness nutrition, personal trainer, author, dietetic technician and an RN
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