By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself… Ezekiel 4:9
The Whole Grains Council, a nonproﬁt consumer advocacy group, wants you to learn more about whole grains and eat more of them for better health. September is National Whole Grains Month (There is a month for nearly everything!) and it is a time to better understand, cook, eat, and enjoy whole grain foods. This month’s article will give you some basic information about whole grains.
What are whole grains?
- A grain is considered to be a whole grain as long as all three original parts — the bran, germ, and endosperm — are still present as when the grain was growing in the ﬁelds.
- Some examples of whole grains include: barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, brown/colored rice, wild rice, rye, wheat
Why should I eat whole grains?
- People who eat whole grains regularly have a lower risk of obesity and lower cholesterol levels.
- Whole grains are filling and satisfying.
- According to the Whole Grains Council, people who eat three daily servings of whole grains have been shown to reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
How do I know if I am buying a whole grain product?
- Look for the Whole Grain Stamp on products. These are examples of the 3 levels of stamps that you may see on products. Each will list the number of grams per serving for the product.
- Check the label. Look for the words/phrases like whole grain, whole wheat, oats, wheat berries. If you only see the terms enriched, bran, or wheat germ it is not a whole grain product.
- Look at the list of ingredients. If the ﬁrst ingredient listed contains the word “whole” (such as “whole wheat ﬂour” or “whole oats”), it is likely – but not guaranteed – that the product is predominantly whole grain.
- Checking the ﬁber on a label is not a very reliable way to guess whether a product is truly whole grain. High-ﬁber products may not have much, if any, whole grain.
OK, so if something has a Whole Grain Stamp on it, does that mean it’s healthy and good for me?
- Not necessarily. The Whole Grain Stamp just informs you that the product is made with whole grains. Look at the label for other information about not-so-healthy ingredients like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats.
Here are a couple practical examples of what I do to increase the whole grains in my diet:
- I read labels closely! I had never noticed the Whole Grain Stamp before researching this article. Even if it has the stamp, I still look at the ingredients.
- I have tried a sprouted whole grain bread—Ezekiel 4:9 bread (usually in the freezer section). I did not like it, but I tried the Ezekiel English muffins and they are very good when toasted. These products contain no added sugar, but they do contain gluten. Note the Bible verse accompanying today’s article; it is where these products get their name.
- Although I don’t eat a lot of rice, I have incorporated brown rice, wild rice, and red rice into my diet.
Give whole grains a try in September! It’s a healthy thing to do!