Glean more nutrition from your diet with real 'whole grains'

Let's test your knowledge. Which of the following label descriptions indicate a whole grain product: multi grain, stone-ground, 100-percent wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain or bran?

If you answered none of the above, you are right. Surprised? In order to be a whole grain product, the words "whole" or "whole grain" must appear before the grain name on the food label. And whole grain should be the first ingredient listed.

So what's the fuss? The nutrition in whole grains (missing from more processed grains) may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Also, because of their high fiber content, whole grains promote proper bowel function. As an added bonus, whole grains provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.

What foods other than the obvious 100-percent whole grain cereals can you choose to get a whole grain product? Brown rice, bulgur, graham flour, oatmeal, pearl barley, popcorn, whole-grain corn, whole oats, whole rye or whole-wheat flour and wild rice all fill the bill.

And since several servings of whole grain products should be eaten each day, here are a few ways to include a variety of whole grains into your diet:

  • Use whole grain bread or cracker crumbs in meatloaf or meatballs.

  • Try a whole grain snack chip such as baked tortilla chips.

  • For a change, try regular or quick-cooking brown rice.

  • Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as pearl barley in vegetable soup and bulgur in casseroles or salads.

  • Try a snack mix made from ready-to-eat whole-grain cereals.

  • Choose a whole-grain (whole-wheat or oatmeal) muffin.

  • Substitute up to one-half whole-wheat flour for white flour.

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