By now you know that eating whole grains is healthy, but do you know why they are healthy and which grains are “whole”? Today’s excerpt will help you to know your grains.

Eating more whole grains is an easy way to make your diet healthier. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Whole-grain diets can also improve bowel health by helping to maintain regular bowel movements and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.

Yet the average American eats less than one serving per day, and over 40% never eat whole grains at all. Young adults get less than one serving daily.

Why? For one thing, it’s not always easy to tell just which foods are whole-grain. Scan the bread, cereal or snack packaging, and virtually every one promotes its whole-grain goodness. But not all of them actually are whole-grain. Terms like “multigrain,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “organic,” “pumpernickel,” “bran,” and “stone ground” may sound healthy, but none actually indicates the product is whole-grain…

A whole grain contains all edible parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. The whole grain may be used intact or recombined, as long as all components are present in natural proportions.

To recognize whole grains, keep this list handy when you go to the supermarket and choose any of the following grains:

  • Whole-grain corn
  • Whole oats/oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Whole rye
  • Whole-grain barley
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Triticale
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • 100% whole wheat flour

Source: “Tips for Reaping the Benefits of Whole Grain.” By Kathleen M. Zelman.  http://www.webmd.com