In honor of September being Fruits and Veggies More Matters and Whole Grains Month, Meghan McKenna, a registered dietician at Hospital for Special Surgery explains whole grains from A to Z.
1. A whole grain contains all of the essential components of the naturally occurring nutrients in the entire grain seed. Whole grains can be found in wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye. A full serving is equal to 16 grams of whole grain. Adults need at least three to five servings and children need two to three servings or more daily.
2. A good way to get more whole grain into your diet is to substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads, and pancakes. Substitute white rice with whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, quinoa or sorghum.
3. Whole grains are packed with protein, B vitamins, fiber, and trace minerals, like iron, zinc, copper, magnesium. These essential nutrients help kids build muscles, bones, and develop important cognitive skills by supporting nervous system development. The fiber in whole grains and complex carbohydrates help to satiate, making you feel fuller, faster, and can help maintain a healthy weight and aid in digestion. Additional benefits of whole grains include lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
4. It is recommended that everyone has four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables each day, equaling two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables. One serving of fruit is equal to one medium piece of fruit, or one cup of cut-up or cooked fruit. One serving of vegetables is equal to one cup of raw or cooked vegetables, two cups of raw leafy vegetables, one cup baby carrots, one medium potato, one cup of cooked or canned beans or peas and one cup of vegetable juice.
5. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are packed full of important nutrients, like potassium for maintaining healthy bones. Good potassium sources include tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, oranges, greens and beans. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keep gums and teeth healthy, and found in red and green peppers, kiwis, strawberries, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe, pineapple, oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Vitamin A helps to fight infection and protect the skin and eyes. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and greens. Fruit and vegetables also have antioxidants that may help to relieve joint pain and lower inflammation in patients with arthritis.