Eat Smart Idaho at University of Idaho Extension
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Hello Idaho,

Grains are an important part of our diet, but they can be a little tricky. Unfortunately, we can’t indulge on French bread and white pasta at every meal. We should, however, enrich our diets with delicious whole grains. At least half of the grains that we consume should be whole!

Wheat turns a light golden brown as it gets ripe.

The Whole Grain Story

Grains have two sub groups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains consist of the entire grain kernel. There are a lot of nutrients in the bran and the germ of a grain kernel like dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. Whole grains are good for you.

When grains are milled, the bran and germ are removed leaving a finer texture. These are refined grains, and while they have a longer shelf life, they lack the nutrients that whole grains contain. Refined grains are not as good for you. It is strongly suggested that at least half of the grains you consume are whole grains.

Here are a few simple tips to help substitute whole grains for refined grains in your meals:

  • Choose whole-wheat bread over white bread
  • Have you ever cooked with barley? It goes really well in vegetable soup
  • Substitute half of the flour in baked goods like cookies or pancakes for whole wheat or oatmeal
  • Popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack (without the butter and just a little salt) and it’s really inexpensive when you buy it in bulk
  • Oatmeal is very versatile, but try to avoid pre-packaged and pre-sweetened oatmeal

Worried about carbs? Don't be. The benefits of healthy whole grains definitely outweigh the bad rep of carbohydrates. As long as you avoid over eating and get some exercise in, feel free to have some pasta (whole grain pasta of course). Find more information about the nutrients and health benefits of grains here.

Until Next Week,

Eat Smart Idaho, University of Idaho Extension