Whole grain foods are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide much more nutritional value than their refined counterparts. They are significantly higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Unfortunately, most people don’t eat enough of this nutritious food group. In fact, it is estimated that Americans are only getting 1/3 of the whole grains into their diets that they should. Fortunately, it’s easy to incorporate whole grains into your diet. Here are 9 ways to easily get more whole grains into your diet.
There are many whole grain cereals on the market and they are all good sources of dietary fiber. Whole grain oats are a great choice because they have the proven ability to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising good cholesterol (HDL).
2. Whole Grain Toast
There are many varieties of whole grain breads available. Some are made from multiple sources of whole grains such as wheat, spelt, barley and oats. Look for food labels that confirm that the product is made with 100% whole grain. Some brands of bread that advertise "whole wheat" on the label are actually a mixture of whole grains and refined white flour.
3. Whole Grain Buns
Substitute plain hot dog or hamburger buns with whole grain varieties. They taste great and can withstand soggy condiments or Sloppy Joe mixtures better than plain buns.
4. Whole Grain Pasta
Use whole grain pasta the next time you make a pasta salad or lasagna. The whole grain varieties have great texture and hold up better than the plain types that tend to get soggy easier.
5. Whole Grain Brown Rice
Use whole grain brown rice instead of refined white rice in your recipes. Not only will you be adding important dietary fiber to your diet, you’ll also be helping to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Refined grains break down very quickly into sugar which can cause spikes in blood glucose levels. The subsequent fall of blood sugar often results in food cravings.
6. Corn or Whole Wheat Tortillas
Use corn tortillas or whole grain wheat tortillas instead of plain flour tortillas the next time you’re serving Mexican food. The use of whole grains or corn makes the dish much healthier.
7. Oatmeal or Whole Wheat Flour
The next time you bake muffins or cookies use oatmeal or whole wheat flour instead of refined white flour. If you don’t do your own baking don’t despair, nowadays almost every type of snack food comes in a whole grain version. Consider shopping at specialty shops or health food stores to stock up on your healthy snacks so you won’t be tempted to purchase the unhealthy varieties.
Popcorn has gotten a bad rap but it can be a healthy whole grain snack when it’s air popped, and butter and salt are kept to a bare minimum.
9. Whole Grain Chips
Switching from plain crackers and chips to whole grain varieties might seem like a little thing, but it’s the little things that make the difference when you're aiming for a nutritionally balanced diet.