Whole grains have always been considered a healthier alternative to refined grains and flour. Part of this belief could stem from the abundance of food products with a “whole grain” label on them.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports on the negative effects of refined sugar, flour, and grains, and the sale of whole grain products has increased.
While the term “whole grain” tends to be loosely used, there are still plenty of healthy whole grain items that can be used as substitutes for refined grains that will help you live a longer, healthier life.
Find out why you should replace refined grains with whole grains. Then take a look at 6 top tips for replacing refined grains with nutritious alternatives.
The Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Why are whole grains a healthy choice? They typically contain a high level of fiber. Fiber is necessary to lower your blood pressure, help with your metabolism, stabilize your blood sugar, and for regularity.
Some recent studies found another benefit—whole grains can increase the production of microbiomes, which are healthy bacteria. This diversity of microbial bacteria aids your digestive system, improves your metabolism, boosts your immune system, and could also help to combat inflammation.
The health benefits do not stop there. With a diet containing more whole grains, and fewer refined products, a person can improve their cholesterol level. The combination of all these medical advantages can result in a reduced risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
Choosing Whole Grains
When you visit the supermarket and look for healthy whole grain foods, you may have difficulty locating the right products. The shelves are often lined with products labeled as “whole grain”. You may also discover bran, wheat, and multi grain products.
Products that are truly whole grain should have a label stating 100% whole grain. You can also check the list of ingredients on the food label. Some food manufacturers will dye their food to appear darker to make them look like a whole grain food product.
Typically, the foods that are most commonly made from whole grains include oats, barley, brown rice, millet, rye, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, and whole grain corn or popcorn.
Adding More Whole Grains to Your Diet
Deciding to add more whole grain to your diet may not be a simple task, depending on what you are used to eating. Keep in mind that you should not be building your entire diet around whole grains. You should still focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Use whole grains to replace refined grains. Here are some tips on how you can start including them in your diet:
1. Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast
Instead of reaching for a box of cereal, in the morning, heat up a bowl of oatmeal. You can also top your oatmeal with berries or other fruit for an added boost of antioxidants and healthy sugar.
2. Use Whole Grain Breads
When making a sandwich, toast, or other meals requiring bread – use whole grain breads.
This can include buckwheat, rye, and other breads that are made from whole grains. White bread can contain a lot of refined sugar and flour.
3. Eat More Whole Grain Side Dishes
With your dinner or lunch, add whole grain side dishes. Brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa are all great options for a tasty side dish to pair with meat or salad.
4. Choose Whole Grain Pasta
Instead of eating the carbohydrate heavy white pasta, use whole grain brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta. With the right flavoring, no one will even know the difference.
5. Eat Whole Grain Snacks
When you need a quick snack between meals, a whole grain cracker or bar is a better choice over cookies or biscuits. These light, whole grain snacks will curb your appetite and provide enough sugar to keep you going until your next meal.
6. Try New Foods
As you begin limiting your intake of refined grains and eating more whole grains, do not keep yourself limited to whole grain breads, crackers, or rice. Try new foods. Discover creative ways to use sorghum and quinoa. Give amaranth a try. There are many other options, other than whole wheat products.
By cutting back on refined sugars, grains, and other unhealthy foods, you can begin improving your health. Replace refined grains with more nutritious alternatives. In addition to looking at whole grain options, make sure that you get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables in your diet by eating or juicing them.