Adding whole grains to your diet can have a big impact on your health and energy levels. But what classifies a grain as a "whole" or "refined grain," and how do you know what you're getting in your pasta and bread.
The evidence that whole grains are great for your health is overwhelming. They contain antioxidants (vitamin E and selenium), B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium), and phytonutrients.¹ Plus, they're packed with dietary fiber.
Studies show that eating whole, instead of refined grains, can lower your risk of many chronic diseases. And, while benefits are more noticeable for those who consume at least three servings daily, some studies show benefits from as little as one serving per day.
Consume at least half of all grains as whole.
— Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
These benefits keep showing up in study after study:
A whole grain contains the whole seed. It has a bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran is the outer layer of the seed and contains most of the fiber; the endosperm, or kernel, is the largest part, and has some nutrition; the germ has most of the nutrients, and is the part from which new plants sprout.
According to the Whole Grains Council: " If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed."
When bread, for example, contains refined flour, it means the wheat was put through a milling process that removed the bran and germ. This is done to give the flour a finer texture and longer shelf life. ³
Unfortunately, this process also removes the fiber and most of the nutrients. These nutrients are then added back, and are labeled as "Enriched" grains. The problem is, the amount of nutrition added back is only a fraction of those that were removed.
Look for this FDA-approved health claim:
"Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods that are low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers."
If you don't see it, look at the ingredients. Most products use refined grains only, while others use a mix of whole and refined.
Products made with 100 percent whole grains have a different texture and flavor. You might not like it at first if you're used to bread and pasta made with refined grains only.
If so, start with products that are a mix to get accustomed to the difference. It's then easy to switch to grains that are 100% whole. When you do, you'll find the heartier texture and more pronounced flavor is what you prefer.
Also look for these stamps by the Whole Grain's Council. Products must have at least eight grams per serving to display the stamp.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that vegetarians get 6 servings of grains per day, although studies show that eating less will still give you some health benefits.
1 Kimberly A. Tessmer, Stephanie Green, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mediterranean Diet
Chia seeds are becoming popular with vegetarians mainly because it's the best source of Omega-3 ALA. But Chia has much more to offer. It's also high in vegetarian protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Switching to a vegetarian diet doesn't necessarily mean that you'll lose weight. In fact, during my first six months as a vegetarian I actually gained ten pounds. Since then, I've lost the weight, and kept it off by following these vegetarian weight loss tips:
It's no coincidence that the same vegetarian foods that we need to stay healthy, also keep our skin youthful and beautiful. In fact, the right vegetarian diet can keep your skin moisturized, radiant, and wrinkle free.
Thanks for visiting! I created this website to help both aspiring and experienced vegetarians.
As a seasoned vegetarian (over 15 years) and a Board Certified, Holistic Health Coach, I have a passion and mission
to help people with their health and happiness.
Feel free to contact me, or share your comments below. Enjoy!
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