Make Half Your Grains Whole!
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend half the grains you eat be whole grains. What is a whole grain? Whole grains contain all three parts of a kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. The refining process generally removes the bran and the germ, leaving the endosperm. According to the Whole Grains Council, without the bran and germ, nearly one quarter of the grain’s protein is lost and at least seventeen key nutrients are greatly reduced.
Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains, like whole wheat flour, have many health benefits. According to the Idaho Wheat Commission, not only do whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep you strong and healthy, but whole grains also contain dietary fiber.
Fiber can help reduce your risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Whole grains are loaded with nutrients that are packaged into a little kernel that will leave you feeling satisfied and full longer.
Enrich the Other Half!
While at least half of your grains should be whole grains, the remaining grains should be enriched. Enrichment is the process of adding some nutrients after processing. While fiber is not added back to enriched grains, iron and important B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid are added back. The Idaho Wheat Commission recognizes bread products made from whole grains, enriched grains, or a combination of both to be nutritious and beneficial to health, while some provide more nutrients and dietary fiber than others. A variety of options are available to please a diversity of taste preferences.
Finding Whole Grains
To find whole grains, start by reading the label. Any wheat bread labeled “whole wheat” must be made from 100% whole wheat flour. Being brown doesn’t mean the bread is whole wheat, and being white may not mean the bread is made purely out of refined flour. Check the ingredients list on the back. If the first ingredient is whole wheat flour, you have a whole wheat grain product.
Add Whole Grains to Your Diet
If you’re looking to add more whole grains into your diet, change things up in the kitchen. You can add whole grains to each meal by following these tips:
- Read the ingredients.
- Select bread labeled “whole wheat”.
- Switch to whole wheat bagels, buns, tortillas, and pasta.
- You can even substitute whole wheat flour into your desserts! Check Out the whole grain cookie recipe below.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Note: Prep: 20 min, Cook: 10 min, Ready: 1 hour
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons hot water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Cream together butter, white/brown sugar until smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter, along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.
- Scoop large spoonfuls and drop onto ungreased pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely brown
- Let cool for 30 minutes
Written by University of Idaho Dietetic Student,
Idaho Wheat Commission and Whole Grains Council
2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Recipe: modified from allrecipes