Whole Grains For Better Health

| Nutrition

What is a whole grain and why are they important? All grains start out as a “whole” grain. In their natural state of growing, whole grains are the entire seed of the plants and is made up of three edible parts—the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Thus, a grain is whole grain if all three original parts of the seed are still present in the same proportions.

Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, bulger, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole grain cornmeal. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it removes important and necessary nutrients such as dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice. If you’re not sure whether a food product is whole grain or not, check the ingredients list. Look for the word “whole” on the package, and make sure whole grains appears as the first item on the ingredients list.

As part of a healthy diet, whole grains can provide health benefits and research has shown reduced risk of some chronic disease when incorporating whole grains such as reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and lower risk of colorectal cancer. Learn more on how whole grains and other varieties of healthy foods can help manage diabetes. Diabetes self-management classes are offered virtually or in person. Classes are free, but class size is limited. For more information or to register visit www.gethealthyclarkcounty.org/myd, call (702) 759-1270 or email gethealthy@snhd.org.

The fiber in whole grains has various beneficial effects on our bodies. One example is not causing a spike in blood sugar the way other carbohydrates can. Fiber also helps with cholesterol by moving waste through the digestion system. By keeping stools soft and bulky, fiber in whole grains helps prevent constipation, inflammatory diseases, and helps to control hunger.

Want to cook more with whole grains? Check out our SNAP cooking app and find hundreds of healthy and easy recipes to cook for the family. You can search based on whole grain ingredients such as rice, breads, oatmeal, wheat, popcorn, etc. Download for Apple and Android.

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