Are you eating enough whole grains? Chances are you are not. As a matter of fact, with all the hype around these days about low carb diets, you have probable been afraid to eat up your grains. Also, if the only grains you can think of are rice and oats, you will certainly get tired of eating rice and oats every day. The fact is, including whole grain foods in your diet is integral to attaining and maintaining good health. Don’t get caught up in the low carb diet fad. Yes, you definitely should cut down or eliminate the refined carb, but carbs that are provided by whole grain foods are essential to good health. And it is not only rice and oats. We are going to list some of the Best Whole Grain Foods that you can and should include in your diet.
What are Whole Grains?
Grains are the edible seeds of plants. A grain is considered to be a whole grain when it contains the three key parts of a seed in the same proportion as when it was growing in the fields. The parts that make up a grain are the bran, the germ, and endosperm.
The bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and ﬁber.
The germ is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant. It contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
The endosperm is the germ’s food supply. It is by far the largest portion of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Let’s quickly mention refined grains so you can understand the difference.
“Reﬁned grain” is the term used to refer to grains that are not whole, because they are missing one or more of their three key parts i.e. either the bran, the germ, or endosperm has been milled out. Examples of refined grains are white ﬂour and white rice. Both have had their bran and germ removed, leaving only the endosperm. Reﬁning a grain removes about a quarter of the protein in a grain, and half to two-thirds or more of other important nutrients, leaving the grain a mere shadow of its original self.
Try to Include these Healthy Whole Grain Foods in your diet.
A super source of fiber and nutrients, brown rice is a great addition to your diet. This extremely versatile grain is widely available, inexpensive, and gluten-free. It has a mild, nutty flavour and can be paired with a variety of proteins and vegetables for a balanced, satisfying meal. Opt for brown rice, which is made from whole grains, and avoid white rice, which is made with refined grains.
Check out these techniques by Minimalist Baker to cook perfect brown rice.
From old-fashioned to steel-cut, oats are a staple and popular breakfast food. It is a great source of multiple minerals such as manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin E, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and can help with cardiovascular health. Oats are high in fiber and contains a special variety called beta-glucan that is especially powerful in lowering cholesterol.
Do you want an easy way to get this grain in your diet daily? Overnight oats for breakfast is the trick.
Barley is rich in vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds. Like most other whole grains, it is a rich source of fiber. It is also a rich source of molybdenum, manganese and selenium and contains good amounts of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin.
Barley has a hearty texture and nutty flavor which makes it a great addition to soups, salads or grain bowls.
Check out this delicious Roasted Vegetable Barley Recipe by The Mediterranian Dish.
Take into consideration that she uses pearled barley in her recipe. That means the barley has some of the outer bran removed. Use the whole grain (hulled) barley for a healthier option. This means you will have to factor in some extra time for cooking.
Are you confused by the term whole wheat vs whole grain? Don’t be.
It is a fact that many people are confused and try to interchange whole wheat and whole grain. They are not the same. Whole wheat is a whole grain but not all whole grains are whole wheat.
Whole wheat is wheat kernels that still contain all three components—the bran, germ and endosperm of the kernel.
It can be readily found in bread and pasta products, but make sure the label says “100% whole wheat”.
Quinoa is a powerhouse whole grain. It is one of the most protein-rich foods you can eat. As a matter of fact, it is a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids. It has nearly twice as much fiber as other grains. It is also rich in iron, which help keep your red blood cells healthy and increase the oxygen supply to your muscles, and also rich in magnesium and lysine which promote tissue growth and repair,
Quick-cooking, gluten-free, and available in a range of colors from white to red, quinoa is also popular for its mild flavor, subtle chewiness, and versatility. It can be used on top of salads, in soups, or you can make delicious quinoa burgers. Quinoa can even be enjoyed as breakfast when topped with cinnamon and fresh fruit!
Buckwheat as a highly nourishing and energizing food which boasts high protein content and all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Buckwheat is gluten-free and closely related to sorrel and rhubarb. It is one of the best grain-based sources of magnesium, (a wonder mineral that does everything from ease PMS symptoms to improve nerve functioning), and manganese, which boosts brain power.
Corn can be extremely healthy for you when it’s whole. A good source of B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus, whole corn is also thought to increase healthy gut flora, which can ward off diabetes, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. Yellow corn is also high in antioxidants.
Many people don’t realize popcorn is 100 percent whole grain, in addition to being low in calories and an excellent source of dietary fiber. Look for air-popped popcorn that’s low in sodium for a crunchy and delicious whole-grain snack.
This light-brown colored, medium-sized ancient grain is a type of wheat and is similar in appearance, texture, and taste to wheat berries. It has a delightfully chewy texture and sweet taste.
Given its high protein and fiber relative to other whole grains, farro is a perfect grain if you really want to feel satisfied after eating. You’ll also feel more energized since it takes the body longer to break down and digest protein and fiber rich foods.
This grain is a great source of iron and magnesium. It contains the most fiber out of any grain and has a high protein content. One cup of this “fiber and protein powerhouse” contains nearly 75% of the dietary fiber you need for the day, and 25% of the protein required for the day. Bulgur is rich in complex carbohydrates and also has a high percentage of zinc, niacin, and iron. It is also great for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
It cooks in only a few minutes and can be used in a wide variety of dishes from breakfast to dinner.
Although millet is most often associated as the main ingredient in bird seed, it is not just “for the birds. Apart from its high fiber content, millet is also rich in B-vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium, and it offers essential healthy fats.
Even though it falls into the grain category—you cook and consume it similarly to rice or oats—it is technically considered a pseudocereal.
Amaranth contains more than three times the average amount of calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s also the only grain documented to contain Vitamin C. It is a protein powerhouse and is also good for your heart as studies have shown its potential as a cholesterol-lowering grain.
Spelt, a distant cousin of wheat, and is considered an ancient grain with a rich and nutty flavor. Its high vitamin and mineral content makes spelt flour a good substitute for wheat flour or white flour in baked goods for an added health boost. A 38 gram serving of spelt flour can give you 12% of your daily intake of zinc, which can lower your risk for neurological problems and age-related macular degeneration. There is also a higher amount of copper, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus in spelt than other grains.
Check out this video by Red Bob Mils if you are not sure how to cook this grain.
Will you make a change in your diet?
Now you have quite a variety of healthy, whole grains to include in your diet. There are more than enough to choose from and there are a variety of ways to prepare them. These foods are known to lower your risk of certain diseases and also aid in recovery when you are ill. Take charge of your health today. Don’t fall for the deception that carbs are bad and should be removed from the diet. Just remember that good carbs from whole grain foods are essential for health and should be a regular part of every healthy diet.
Is there any grain listed above that you have never tried before but you are willing to give it a try now?
Share your experience with us in the comments section below.