January is Fiber Focus Month and it couldn’t fall at a better time. Almost every popular New Year’s Resolution can be more successful by adding fiber! So what is fiber? Dietary fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant foods. There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps remove cholesterol from your body, which is good for heart health. Both types of fiber increase feelings of fullness are good for regular bowel movements. Adults should be aiming for 25 – 35 grams of fiber each day, although most are only getting an average of 16 grams per day. Keep reading to learn why fiber is such an important part of a healthy diet. Continue reading
Today’s post was written by VT Dietetic students Hannah Winston, Miriam Eackloff, Darian Carter, Kendall Holloway, Ali Moore.
There are two types of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel and refined grains have been milled. Milling is a process that removes the bran and the germ, helping make grains more shelf-stable. But milling also gets rid of many important nutrients, such as dietary fiber, iron, and other vitamins found in the bran and germ. Dietary fiber aids in digestive processes and iron is important for red blood cell production. Because whole grains contain more of these important nutrients, we should aim to make at least half our grains whole grains.
Reading the ingredients is the best way to determine if a food is made with whole grains (see tips 1 and 2 on this fact sheet from MyPlate). Some examples of whole grains include:
- Whole-wheat flour
- Whole cornmeal
- Brown rice
For even more information, including recipes and more examples of whole grains check out this post. Here are some tips from VT Dietetic students that you can use to incorporate more whole grains into your own meals:
“To start eating more whole grains, I put granola in my cereal and yogurt. Granola can have anything from whole grain oats to brown rice to whole grain wheat. It adds an extra crunch, and they come in so many different varieties and flavors that I never get sick of it!” ~ Hannah Winston
“When I go out to eat for a sandwich or sub, I always ask if I can substitute the white bread or roll with a whole grain version. In my opinion, they all taste very similar and the other flavors and ingredients in the sandwiches make it mix very well.” ~ Kendall Holloway
“I have a whole grain at dinner every night. In order to not get tired of the same grains, such as rice or pasta, I started experimenting with new ones. Recently, I made quinoa, and loved it. Another kind I might add to the mix will be barley. I know this helps keep me excited to eat more whole grains.” ~ Darian Carter
“When I make whole grains like bulgur or quinoa, sometimes I make extra and freeze half of it so I know I have a side dish for one of those days I’m short on time.” ~ Ali Moore
“When I make bread, cornbread, or other recipes that call for flour, I like to replace the white flour with whole wheat flour, usually by half. Sometimes in bran muffins and other recipes, I replace one-third or half of the white flour with rolled oats. My friends don’t even notice!” ~ Miriam Eackloff
What are your family’s favorite whole grain foods?
Do you struggle with meal planning? Do you prepare meals for your family or just yourself? Whether you are cooking for one or more, meal planning is a skill that takes practice be learned. Even if you know how to plan and shop in advance, it still requires something precious and costly – your time.
While many of us may not have grown up eating whole grains, it’s time we start!
Whole grains are called whole because they contain all three parts of the grain as it’s found on the plant- the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Refined grains have the bran and germ removed during processing, which reduces the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to whole grains. (Most refined grains are later enriched to add back some of the essential nutrients lost.) Because they have all of their original parts and nutrients, whole grains are a healthier choice than refined grains.
Whole Grain Options
With the rise in popularity of whole grains, there are now more whole grain options than ever. You can find a variety of whole grain pasta shapes and sizes, more whole grain breads than you can count and most breakfast cereals are made with whole grains instead of refined ones now. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a whole grain version of these foods for your family to try. It will taste a little different. Whole grains are heartier, so it will taste a little nuttier and be slightly chewier than the refined grain version. Give it a few tries to give your taste buds time to adapt and soon, the whole grain bread, pasta and cereals will be your family’s norm.
For more adventurous options, try cooking the actual whole grain, not just a product made with whole grain flour. Brown rice, popcorn, and oatmeal are whole grains that you are probably familiar with. There are many other whole grains to try as well. See this list of Whole Grains A to Z from the Whole Grains Council.
Ready to add more whole grains to your menu? Try these recipes and let us know what you think in the comments.
Written by Rachel Sable
Part of National Nutrition Month 2013
I’m the type of person who presses the snooze button at least three times before actually getting out of bed. I love my sleep (as do all college students!) and absolutely dread setting my alarm clock. Due to about 30 minutes lost during my over pressing of the snooze button, I have to get ready for the day in the quickest way possible. As a student studying nutrition I am aware of the importance of breakfast and must decide, “What can I eat that is quick yet provides a jump start to my day?” I’ve found that cereal seems to be the most tasteful option.
Cereal can be a great breakfast option if you are choosing the right ones. I always check the nutrition label and serving size. Never rely on the claims made on the front of the box!
What should be in your cereal per serving size?
- High in fiber (more than 3g)
- Low in sodium (less than 200 mg)
- Low in sugar (10g or less)
Now we all have a hard time choosing the ‘healthy’ cereal over the ‘sugar’ cereal in the grocery aisle but there are healthier cereal options that taste just a great as the ‘sugar’ cereals. Plus, you can include a serving of fruit to your cereal, like I always do, to add some sweetness to your breakfast.
Which cereal will you choose for breakfast?
Mayo Clinic Staff (2011). Healthy Breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/food-and-nutrition/ART-20048294?pg=2