Happy National Nutrition Month!

March is National Nutrition Month. What a great opportunity to revisit eating habits and resolve to make better choices.

Each week this month we’ll feature a MyPyramid food groups which include grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, milk, plus meat and beans. These guidelines, published by the USDA, are a good platform for healthy eating. And by tackling each group individually, you may find it easier to work them into your daily menus. So onto this week’s focus:

GRAINS

THE BASICS:

Grains are either whole or refined. Whole grains contains the entire kernel and also contain fiber, vitamins, minerals that are removed refining. Grains are found in foods made from wheat, oats, rice, barley – like bread, pasta, tortillas, and breakfast cereals. Whole grains are in foods like whole-wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal and brown rice.

RECOMMEND SERVINGS:

Six oz. of grain a day (based on a 2,000 calories per day). A serving size is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of dry cereal or 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal.

THE RESEARCH:

Eating whole grains attacks belly fat, the type of fat tied to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A Tufts University study showed that people who ate three or more servings of whole grain a day and limited refined grains, lost 10 percent more belly fat than those who ate mostly refined grains.

So choose whole wheat bread and oatmeal instead of white bread and white rice. Substituting just three whole grain foods for refined grains can go a long way in reducing your waistline.

WHOLE GRAIN QUICK TIPS:

  • Watch for deceptive packaging. Foods labeled multi-grain, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain, or bran are usually not whole-grain products.
  • Choose foods that contain whole grains, brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal, whole-grain corn, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat, wild rice.
  • Try whole wheat versions of food you already eat, like pastas, breads and cereals.
  • Read nutrition labels and select products that list a whole grain first.
  • Don’t be fooled by color. Foods like bread can be brown because of molasses or other ingredients.

ADDING WHOLE GRAIN TO YOUR MENU:

  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal counts at breakfast (1 oz.)
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread at lunch (2 oz.)
  • 1 cup of cooked pasta at dinner (2 oz.)

A total of 5 oz. of grain. That leaves room for a snack like popcorn, a whole grain.

There you have it. Your six servings of grains and half of them whole wheat. With a little thought and planning, you can stay within your grain limits and feel satisfied. Give it a try this week.

So this week, work on making half of your grains whole grains.

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