“Make at least half of your grains whole grains.” That’s what the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends to help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases and maintain a healthy weight.  But what is a grain and what makes it whole? Here’s your go-to guide to grains.
Grains are seeds mainly from cereal grasses such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, or millet. Seeds that are not from cereal grasses, such as aramanth, quinoa, and buckwheat, are not technically grains.  They are, however, generally included in the grains food group because their nutritional profile, preparation, and use are so similar to true grains.
Grains are categorized into two groups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, which consists of the bran, germ, and endosperm.  During processing, many of the nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, and fiber, found in the bran and germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm.  Although most refined grains are enriched after processing so that certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back, they don’t have as many nutrients or provide as much natural dietary fiber as whole grains.
The USDA recommends we all strive to eat at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains each day. Among grain serving examples are:
• 1 slice of whole grain bread
• 1 small whole grain tortilla
• ½ cup of cooked brown rice or whole grain pasta
• 1 cup of whole grain cold cereal
• ½ cup of cooked cereal, such as oatmeal
• 3 cups of popcorn
The nutrients in whole grains have many health benefits. According to the American Heart Association and the USDA MyPlate, consuming a high-fiber diet (at least 25 grams per day) may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Fiber-containing foods also contribute to a feeling of fullness, which may help in weight management. Whole grains are rich in essential nutrients like protein, fiber, and B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and selenium.
Expand whole grain options
You’re probably familiar with whole grain standards like oatmeal and brown rice. However, if you’re looking to expand your family’s whole grain options, try others, such as bulgur, farro, and millet. Here’s how:
Bulgur – Bulgur is wheat that has been partially cooked and dried. It’s rich in fiber and a good source of B vitamins.  Prepare it at home by adding 1 cup of bulgur to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Cover briefly and let stand.  Fluff before serving. This versatile grain is good in soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and puddings.
Farro – Farro is an ancient whole grain. Add it to a pot of boiling water, cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain before adding to soups or stews for thickness and a nutty flavor.  You also can try farro mixed with sautéed leeks for a tasty side dish.
Millet – Millet is a naturally gluten-free grain with a very mild flavor. To prepare, combine 1 cup of millet with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat; cover the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed. You can pair cooked millet with curries or other dishes that contain bold spices. To boost the flavor of millet, cook in stock instead of water or sauté in sesame oil prior to cooking.
Did you know ShopRite offers complimentary nutrition services from registered dietitians?  ShopRite dietitians offer nutrition counseling, grocery store tours, cooking class, product requests, and more.  Contact your ShopRite dietitian for more information:
ShopRite of Niskayuna: Sarah Ender, MS, RD, 491.0050
2333 Nott Street East, Niskayuna
ShopRite of Albany: Rachel Robinson, 708.3445
709 Central Avenue, Albany
ShopRite of Colonie: Amy Imler, RD, 598.4970
1730 Central Avenue Albany
ShopRite of Slingerlands: Kristin Caponera, MS, RD, CDN, 708.7815
41 Vista Boulevard, Slingerlands


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