Making whole grain foods a part of your everyday diet is a great start at leading a heart healthy lifestyle. You know the grains you’re eating are of whole value if they are compromised of three particular things--germ, endosperm and bran. Simply put, grains are considered whole when they aren’t stripped of their nutritional value, like white bread and rice. Like fruits and vegetables, whole grains contain a high concentration of antioxidants to help keep your body strong and healthy. In fact, there are antioxidants found in whole grains that are not found in any fruits and vegetables.
Other benefits of eating grains that have not been stripped are the numerous vitamins found within them, such as vitamin B, iron, and fiber. They also provide protection against heart disease by helping to lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. And due to the high concentration of antioxidants found in the grains, they may even help to protect you against certain cancers. Furthermore, eating a diet that is rich in whole grain foods can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Whole Grain Intake Recommendations
The USDA recommends that adults receive no less than three servings of whole grain foods per day for optimum health benefits and to help reduce your risk of disease, cancers and heart disease. But eating as little as one serving a day does offer some of the same health benefits. What’s more is that eating a diet that is rich in whole grains along with regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off for good.
Making the Switch
Although it might be hard to switch to a whole grain diet all at once, there are steps you can take to incorporate the grains into your diet without sacrificing taste. For example, you can consider replacing half of your white flour for whole grain flour in things like muffins, bread, pancakes, pizza dough and cookies. You can also use whole wheat pasta when making spaghetti, or mix white and brown rice together for a stir fry. Other options include using oatmeal in cookie and cake recipes or adding wild rice and barley to your soups.
Foods You Already Know
Some foods that are high in whole grains are probably already on your list of frequently eaten foods, such as popcorn. This is important because an easy way to incorporate this heart healthy food into your diet on a regular basis is to enhance what you already love to eat. So instead of having ice cream for dessert, consider sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar on your popcorn for a sweet treat. You might even think about making a homemade apple pie using oatmeal as the crust, or baking chocolate chip muffins made with applesauce and whole rye.