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How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet: Eating Healthy and Feeling Great

Updated on July 10, 2013
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Easy Ways to Add More Grains To Your Diet

How much Whole Grains Are You Eating?

Grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. All grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates with key vitamins and minerals. Grains are also low in fat. However, the most important factor that has been linked to eating grains is the lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers as well as other health issues.

Although all grains are good for you, the healthiest are the whole grains. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that half of all the grains you consume are whole grains.

There’s a good chance that you eat lots of grains now. But do you know if they are whole grains?

Grains are divided into three categories:

  • Whole Grains are unrefined and haven’t had their germ and bran removed by the milling process. A better source of fiber, whole grains also contain very important nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Whole grains are eaten as a sole food such as brown rice and popcorn, or as part of the ingredients in a recipe such as whole wheat in bread or buckwheat in pancakes.
  • Refined Grains are milled. This process strips the grain of both the bran and germ which gives it a finer texture and also extends its shelf life. One important factor of refined grains is that the milling process also removes many nutrients, including their fiber. Refined grains should be eaten in small moderation or in some cases, removed from your diet altogether. They include white flour, white rice, white bread, and degermed cornflower. You will find refined grains in many breads, cereals, crackers, desserts, and pastries.
  • Enriched Grains: Some nutrients, such as B vitamins, that had been lost during the refining process are added back in. However, the fiber that was lost in the refining process is not added back in. When you see “Fortifying Nutrients” on labels, this means that nutrients were added to the grains that don’t occur naturally.
    Most refined grains are enriched. Many enriched grains are fortified with other vitamins and minerals. Whole grains may or may not be fortified.

The following tips are designed to help you add whole grains to your diet. By following these tips and suggestions, you will reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.

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Replacing White for Brown

There are refined-grain products that we consume every day that we can substitute with whole-grain products, therefore reducing our fat and calorie intake as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other common health issues that stem from refined grains:

  1. Replace all your white bread with 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread
  2. Use brown rice instead of white rice. Note that it is sometimes a little hard to completely replace the white with the brown rice with our palettes so used to eating the white rice. Experiment, by using 1/3 brown rice with 2/3 white rice and continue to increase the brown and decrease the white every time you make rice. Before you know it, your dishes will be all brown rice and you won’t even miss the white.
  3. For a change, try using whole wheat pasta, brown rice in your stuffed bell peppers or tomatoes and whole wheat macaroni in your macaroni and cheese.

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Out With the Old, In With the New!

By replacing candy, chips and other popular high fat, high sodium, high sugar, and high calorie content with whole grain snacks, you will notice just how much more energy you have and your weight will begin to drop off a lot easier. If you are prone to headaches, you will see them disappear, your constant hunger cravings between meals will subside and you will generally feel better!

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Dressing Up Your Dishes

Using whole grains in your mixed dishes is a great way to add bulk to your dishes and incorporate whole grains into your diet. You may even notice that you will get full a lot sooner. Try adding barley in your vegetable soups or stews or bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. You can also try a pilaf or a quinoa salad.

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Are You in the Know?

When shopping for whole-grain foods, be aware that the color of a food does not necessarily mean it is a whole-grain food. Did you know that foods labeled as “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “Cracked wheat,” “Seven-grain,” “Multi-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole-grain product at all?

Know your ingredients! Read the labels list!
When looking for whole-grain products, they will appear first on the list. Be sure to look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “bulgur,” “whole rye,” “wild rice,” or “whole-grain cornmeal.”

You will also need to check the Nutrition Facts label for the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Really good sources of fiber will contain 10-19% of the daily value, where excellent sources will contain 20% or more. Don’t forget… READ THE LABEL!

Elizabeth Rayen
Elizabeth Rayen | Source

About the Author

Lisa has directed and acted in musical theatre for nearly 30 years. Her musical upbringing allowed her to pursue her career in teaching and directing and continues to direct shows today. As the owner of 2 online Home Décor sites, Lisa’s passion for Rustic Living all begins with her love for the home, outdoors, and her many hobbies. Lisa loves to laugh, and she share’s that love through her comedic hubs centered on her MOM. Lisa’s passions include writing, directing, acting, photography, singing, cooking, crafts, gardening, and home improvement, including decorating. Lisa also writes under her penned name, Elizabeth Rayen.

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Comments:How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet: Eating Healthy and Feeling Great!

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    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Wonderful explanation. Will have to check and change some priotities Lisa. Rye is fine! Love those light brown dividers. Your lay out is impeccable! I do check labels and nutrition facts. Great hub for everyone who wants to eat healthier. Thanks RusticLiving!

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Well.. as I live and breathe! My favorite hub buddie. So good to see you! Rye is fine lord... I agree :) I'm happy you check the labels. You are such a good boy! :) So good to see you! :)

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks - this is an excellent introduction to whole grains and their health value. (Been on the health craze for over 30 years, myself.) Voted up, useful, and interesting, and shared.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      That is wonderful to hear Sid. Thank you so much for your comment and support. Have a blessed day! :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Refined foods are unhealthy foods. Brown rice tastes so much better and is more filling and satisfying. Unfortunately, I am wheat intolerants, so I can't have whole wheat.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Hi aviannovice. I have so many friends who are wheat intolerant. Thank goodness for other whole grains that can substitute wheat products. I do a lot with oats and corn myself. Thank you so much for your comment :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Not only are these whole grains healthier but I like their more robust flavor, especially when choosing brown rice over white. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      I agree alocsin. I love brown rice as well. I also was introduced to black rice recently.. ever hear of it? It's wonderful! So good to see you! :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      I especially liked your suggestion to 'ease into' brown rice. I find the heartier, stronger brown rice not as easy to 'swallow' as white rice. Gradually mixing might do the trick!

      Well done. Lots of good information in a no-nonsense format.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Thank you so much Mary! When I first introduced brown rice into our diet, I had to do it slowly ( I agree with you) as it was harder to swallow. I have since been introduced to long grain brown rice which is really tasty and so much easier to eat. There is also a rice called "black rice" which I have recently heard about that it is packed with vitamins and even healthier than brown rice. Next time I shop at my health food store, I will be searching that out as well. So good to see you! :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I started eating whole grain pasta sometimes and it actually has a nice rich flavour to it. These are good ideas as many people are trying to get healthier.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      That's awesome Christy. You're correct.. it does have a great flavor. I also like spinach pasta.. another wonderful flavor. :)

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Incorporating whole grains in our diet is so important and this is full of info to help people give it needed attention. The note on deceptive labels is a significant issue that is crucial to keep in mind.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Thank you so much for your comment RTalloni! Greatly appreciated! :)

    • rutley profile image

      rutley 4 years ago from South Jersey

      This is really good! I've been eating alot of different grains and seeds for a few years now but getting the rest of the family on board is a constant challenge! Great information.....Happy Healthy Holidays

      to you and yours!

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Thank you rutley! I had the same challenge as well. What worked for me was to introduce whole grains a little at a time. For example, when I would cook white rice, I would start out by adding a little brown with it until we were used to the texture and flavor, then would continue to add more brown and less white. Now we only eat brown. :) Happy Holidays to you as well! ♥

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a great reminder to read labels. Things are not always as they seem! We do try to consume whole grains such as brown rather than white rice and whole grain breads. We also eat a lot of quinoa since it's relatively inexpensive in Peru. Thank you!

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Thank you vespawoolf. I was not always good at reading labels. I started to read them about 4 years ago and have really relied upon what they say. It's a good practice to get into. Thank you so much for your comment. Good to see you again! Have a great day! ♥

    • ryanjhoe profile image

      ryanjhoe 4 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      This is very informative hub, I use to eat oatmeal for breakfast because it has so many benefits for health especially for maintain healthy heart. I get more info about whole grains from this article, thanks for sharing!

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 4 years ago from California

      Thank you ryanjhoe. I'm glad you found this hub useful. I love oatmeal and eat it quite frequently. When I make or buy bread, I only use whole grains. I find that I feel much better during the day. Have a wonderful day and thank you for stopping by. ♥

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 3 years ago from Iowa

      Great advice. I will share it on my Healthy Food Examiner page.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 3 years ago from California

      Thanks Deb! I'm glad you liked it. I appreciate the sharing very much! ♥

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Whole grains are delish! They might take some getting use to, but they are so much healthier than white. An excellent and very informative article! :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Here I am! How did I miss this fantastic hub on whole grains? Fabulous presentation and I will share it all over the place plus pinning. I realize that whole grains are the best for bread - but gee, I do love my sourdough:) Thanks for writing about this.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 3 years ago from California

      Hiya Sunshine! So wonderful to see you my friend! I agree with you, however, I have always loved to eat...pretty much everything, so I never had a problem adapting to whole grains.. the problem with me is..I had a hard time giving up the "whites"...*wah wah wah* I'm glad you liked the article. Have a wonderful evening!♥

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 3 years ago from California

      hahahahaha Vocalcoach! Do I need to go shopping again??? I'll slowly wean you off the sourdough.

      I did say S-l-o-w-l-y!!! ♥ Thanks for all the sharing! You're the best!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      I eat whole grain and try to avoid refined grains as much as I can. Actually much of the cereal I eat is produced in our farm, and I believe I'm eating healthy. Thanks for sharing this informative article.

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 3 years ago from California

      You are most fortunate to have a farm with whole grains available to you Vinaya. It pleases me to know that you are consciously aware of the benefits that whole grains have. Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Have a great day!♥

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