Choose whole grains for health

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A Pistachio Almond Cranberry Farro Salad is the current superfood recipe available at the Sentara Albemarle Medical Center cafeteria.


Karen Phillips RD,CNM
Sentara Albemarle Medical Center

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Packed with protein, fiber and other health-boosting nutrients, whole grains offer the benefits of the entire grain kernel.

The more common grains are wheat, oat, barley, brown rice, rye, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, wild rice and bulgur. Also available are whole grain flours, couscous, pastas and breads.

Whole grains are unrefined and contain the germ, endosperm and bran. With the entire grain kernel intact, whole grains contain more fiber, protein and other key nutrients, such as B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium), than their refined or "white" counterparts. Eating whole grains has been associated with lower risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and better weight maintenance.

​Many people are now following a gluten free diet and often stop eating many grain products. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley among other grains. Giving up gluten doesn’t mean giving up grains. Whole grains without gluten include amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, sorghum, and wild rice.

A serving of whole grains is 1 oz or about ½ cup of cooked grains, 1 slice bread, or 1 cup of cold cereal.

When shopping for grains, look for the “Whole Grain” stamp which will let you know just how much whole grain is in the product

Unlike refined grains, whole grains have a shorter storage life. Use often and rotate your inventory properly – FIFO.

(Examples of the “Whole Grain” stamp can be found online.)


Whole Grain Cooking tips

Whole grains in general take longer to cook, so follow manufacturer instructions on time.

Cook grains like rice. Bring dry grains to a boil with water or broth and simmer, covered until liquid is absorbed. Or cook like pasta with larger amount of liquid and strain after cooked.

Short cuts: Soak whole grains overnight to shorten cooking time.

Rice cookers work well in cooking all sorts of grains, not just white rice.

Make ½ your grains whole. Eat whole grains with half your meals and snacks, or choose foods that are at least 50 percent whole grains


PHOTOS — From the kitchen of Sentara Albemarle Medical Center: Farro Salad