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Incorporating wheat and other whole grains in your diet

Posted Monday, July 25, 2011, at 9:04 AM

Last week's blog, "The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead" focused on wheat. Although the most commonly consumed grain in the western diet, wheat isn't the only edible whole grain.

Other whole grains include brown rice, popcorn, corn, oats, barley, rye, and buckwheat. With these options (and more), most people can easily consume the recommended three servings of whole grains per day.

How much whole grain equals a serving? Sixteen grams -- but how does that translate into real food?

Each slice of 100% whole wheat bread contains roughly one serving of whole grains. For your lunch sandwich, replace the two pieces of bread with 100% whole wheat bread and you are typically two-thirds of the way to your daily recommended consumption.

What else counts for a whole grain serving?

Examples include one-half cup of cooked 100% whole wheat pasta, one-half cup of cooked oatmeal, one-half cup of cooked brown rice, one-half cup of corn, and two cups of popcorn (don't ruin the health benefits with excess butter and sugar!).

With some shredded wheat cereals -- by consuming their suggested serving size -- one bowl nearly provides the total daily recommendation of 48g of whole grains!

To make identifying whole grain products easier, the Whole Grains Council stamps some foods (companies must ask to participate and meet standards) with a Whole Grain Stamp. Foods containing at least 16g (full serving) of whole grains carry a 100% Stamp or Excellent Source Stamp. Foods containing at least 8 grams (but less than 16 grams) of whole grain per serving carry a Basic Stamp or Good Source Stamp.

For more information, visit www.wholegrainscouncil.org .

If your diet and/or health has room for improvement and you already consume the recommended three servings of whole grains per day, consider replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains. The less refined grains the better.

Also, vary your sources of whole grains. Each grain has a unique blend of beneficial nutrients. Consider occasionally replacing wheat with an alternative grain. For example, replace toaster waffles and sugary cereals with oatmeal, cornflakes, or buckwheat pancakes; replace dinner rolls with brown rice; replace macaroni and cheese with corn; replace macaroni in soup with barley.

From Worthington, Tracey is a Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband, Ed and three children, Lilly, Charlie, and Kate. For additional nutrition tips, recipes, menu ideas, articles, and more, follow her on Facebook at Tracey Linneweber, RD. The information contained in this blog is not meant to substitute for your physician's advice.

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