A heart to heart about whole grains
As a dietitian and mom, I know first-hand that whole-grain breads and snack products have lots of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer. Whole-grain diets can also improve bowel health by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.
Unfortunately, studies show that many people—especially Hispanics—don’t get the recommended servings of whole grains per day. The average American, for instance, eats less than one serving of whole grains daily, and more than 40% of Americans don’t eat whole grains at all. And young adults get less than one serving of whole grains a day. The proper intake of whole-grain products, however, is especially important to bone health during adolescence and childhood.
People who kick-start their day with an optimal dose of grains that contain protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper and magnesium) will enjoy the benefits of a fiber-rich meal. There are many easy and delicious ways to incorporate whole grains into any meal. It just takes a little planning and some creativity.
Consumers can boost whole-grain consumption by including two slices of whole-grain bread, whole-grain rolls or whole-grain tortillas in sandwiches and tortas. This is a good way to help children get their recommended daily servings.
Consumers can replace sugary snacks or bakery treat toppings with those packed with whole grains.
Adding a handful of dried cereal (granola) and nuts to yogurt creates a quick, nutritious dessert.
Incorporating more whole grains into breads, rolls and buns as healthful inclusions, along with fruit, boosts energy and keeps people focused and satisfied until their next meal.
Bakers can also make it easier for consumers to choose whole-grain products through a variety of ways, including the following:
Listing key whole-grain ingredients on packaging, so consumers can easily find whole-grain products.
Including the word “whole” in the product description, such as “whole-wheat flour.” Ideally, “whole grain” should be the first ingredient on the nutritional list, indicating that the product contains more whole grain than any other ingredient by weight.
Incorporating whole grains into frozen and ready-to-eat waffles, pancakes, cakes and other desserts.
Including healthful recipes on packaging. For instance, whole-grain cracker packages can feature recipes suggesting ways to use different shapes, sizes and flavors to create appetizers, as well as better-for-you topping combinations, such as low-fat cheeses, grapes and walnuts. This is a classic appetizer that will definitely catch consumers’ attention.
Whole-grain products can be so versatile. There are endless ways to create a variety of meals, snacks and appetizers with whole-grain breads, crackers, cereals and tortillas. SF&WB
Sylvia Klinger, MS, RD, LDN is a food and culinary consultant and founder of Hispanic Food Communications in Hinsdale, Ill.