Purchasing Whole Grains
- By: Matthew Gianforte
Copyright (c) 2014 LifeWorks Integrative health
Believe it or not there is a very simple way to help lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol and lower your chances of developing a number of serious medical conditions. This method is simple and starts in your kitchen. Want to learn more?
In order to ensure you are eating the right grains, you should consider replacing the refined grains in your diet with whole grains. What are whole grains? Whole grains are cereals and seeds that have not been processed or milled to remove their hard exterior. This hard exterior layer is known as the bran and contains healthy oils, fibers and proteins. During processing this hard, outer exterior is stripped away. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that take your body longer to digest. As a result, whole grains release their nutrients slowly and continuously. This leaves you feeling fuller and energized for much longer. Whole grains will not spike your blood sugar. Whole grains are a great source of dietary fiber, iron, potassium, protein and manganese.
Where Can I Find Whole Grain Foods?
Finding whole grain foods in your local grocery store can be tricky. This is largely due to the lack that food labels can be misleading. From reading a nutritional label, it can be hard to tell what is made from whole grain and what isn't. Finding the right grains can be a challenge. The best way to find the right grains is to verify if your packaged foods contain whole grains or not is to read the ingredient list on the back side. If the grains are listed as "whole grains" chances are these products are actually whole grain. However, the best way to ensure you are eating the right grains is to buy grains whole and cook them yourself.
Some examples of the right grains include oats, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa. You can look for these right grains in the bulk bins or dried goods section at your local supermarket. These grains are often very, very affordable. All grains should be well-rinsed before cooking and inspected for stray twigs or stones that may remain from when the grains were processed. What can you use your whole grains for? Whole grains can take the place or white pasta or rice. Whole grains can also be added to salads, soups and casseroles. You can enjoy them for breakfast as well.
To save time and prepare your meals ahead of time, it is a good idea to make a large batch of whole grains and store the remaining grains in the fridge. This will allow you to bring them out for meals later on in the week. If you haven't cooked your grains yet, they should be stored in an airtight container. This container should be placed in a dark cabinet and can remain their for up to 6 months. If you refrigerate them, they can be stored for up to one year.
Whole Grains to Try:
Let's take a look at some of the less common whole grains you may not have heard of. These grains are:
1. Amaranth. Amaranth is technically a seed, but has the nutritional value similar to that of a grain. Amaranth contains more protein than most grains. It is considered to be a complete protein and also contains three times as much calcium as your typical grain. Amaranth is also rich in magnesium and iron. This seed is the only grain that contains vitamin C. Amaranth has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in patients that have been diagnosed with various cardiovascular conditions.
2. Buckwheat. While there is a good chance you have at least heard of buckwheat in the past. However, there are likely a few things that you do not know about grain. For instance, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is not really even a grain at all. Buckwheat is a heart-shaped seed that is related to the rhubard. This gluten-free item has a nutty flavor and comes with numerous health benefits. Buckwheat contains phytonutrients, which makes it a powerful antioxidant. This can help to protect your body from cancer-causing free radicals. Buckwheat has also been shown to lower high blood pressure and can reduce cholesterol levels. Buckwheat promotes proper circulation of your blood throughout the body.
3. Farro. Farro is a type of wheat that has been enjoyed by individuals for hundreds and hundreds of years. Farro has a chewy, but firm texture with a nutty flavor. Farro can be used in stuffing, soup and on salads. One cup of farro contains 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber making farro a very nutritious wheat. Fiber helps to support digestive health and can leave you feeling full for hours. This is why farro is enjoyed by individuals who are looking to lose weight.
4. Kamut. Kamut is an accident grain that is believed to have many more health benefits than that of modern strains of wheat. Scientists have found that kamut founds high levels of lutein and beta-carotene -- which are important for the health of your eyes. Kamut is also high in selenium (great for supporting a healthy immune system) as well as zinc and manganese. It is much higher in protein (20-40 percent) than your typical wheat. A half a cup of kamut provides you with 6 grams of protein and only 140 calories.
5. Wild Rice. Like many of the grains listed that are not truly grains, wild rice is not actually considered rice. Wild rise is the seed of an aquatic grass that was originally found in the shallower waters across North America. Wild rice has double the fiber and protein of brown rice. This rice is also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Since wild rice can be fairly expensive, it is often blended and sold with other whole grains.
With so many processed and refined grains found on your supermarket's shelves these days, how can you be sure you are actually purchasing whole grains. Whole grains are the healthy grains for you and you need to avoid purchasing refined grains. Here's how to find the grains that are best for your health.
Matthew Gianforte, DC serves Kansas City and Johnson County focusing on the underlying cause of disease through a whole systems approach with Functional Medicine, Chiropractic, and weight loss. Stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying cause of disease, thereby addressing our chronic disease epidemic. Connect on Facebook, and Google+.