Why you should eat more whole grains like quinoa, farro and oats

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The fear of carbohydrates and grains, particularly grains, persists among many people with beliefs that foods like bread, pasta, and rice cause weight gain, high blood sugar levels, and other health concerns. However, as a dietitian, it’s commonly heard that misunderstandings surround the consumption of carbs, specifically grains (Dietitian, paragraph 1).

Most American diets meet or even exceed their daily recommended carbohydrate intake, but 74% of Americans consume too many refined grains while only 2% maintain a healthy intake of whole grains (paragraph 2). It is critical to understand that not all carbohydrates and grain products are equal, as whole grains offer a range of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. The elimination of whole grains from one’s diet leads to missed opportunities of absorbing these health benefits and often result in unhealthy eating habits in the long term (paragraph 3). Consequently, adopting a balanced and nutrient-dense diet includes incorporating more whole grains, which offer a myriad of health benefits.

The article reveals that whole grains differ from refined grains like white flour by containing the entire grain kernel, rich in vitamins, fiber, health-promoting fats, among other nutrients (paragraph 6). A study at the Nutrition 2024 conference discovered that moving away from whole grains to refined grain options can result in a hefty 50%–80% reduction in essential nutrients and minerals (paragraphs 9 and 10). Given this significant nutritional loss due to the absence of the germ and the bran containing vital vitamins and minerals, the benefits of favoring whole grains over refined are evident (paragraph 9).

The following paragraph enumerates several types of whole grains examples, such as whole wheat flour and whole grain cereals, various sorts of rice like black, brown, red, and purple, oats, quinoa, barley, freekeh, millet, and their respective substitutes (e.g., farro, einkorn, and amaranth) (paragraph 11). Additionally, these grains make a valuable addition to any diet due to essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium, and antioxidants like vitamin E (paragraph 13). Furthermore, one cup of cooked whole wheat pasta offers double the amount of necessary fiber than regular pasta as recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) (paragraphs 14-15).

Integrating whole grains into our meals can lead to a healthier food pattern, contributing to the prevention or management of blood sugar levels, control of cholesterol, improved heart health, gut health, and decrease in colorectal cancer risk as well as aid in suppressing hunger and promoting weight management through high fiber content (paragraphs 16 – 21). The DGA recommends adults consume at least one-half of their daily grains from whole grains and requires three 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily for adults (paragraph 23). The serving sizes provide a convenient measurement of whole-grain intake (paragraphs 25).

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans promotes small yet consistent and gradual changes to transition one from refined grains to whole, such as choosing quinoa and whole-grain rice over refined versions and incorporating whole grain tortillas rather than white flour types (paragraph 26 and 27). Registered Dietitian Maxine Yeung emphasizes that incorporating whole-grain food choices can revolutionize overall diet quality due to the benefits offered by numerous whole grain varieties (para 28).

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