Staff Blog: The Ageless Whole Grain

While September is National Whole grain Month, Whole Grain Sampling Day falls on March 28th and gives colleges, hospitals, supermarkets, and school districts the opportunity to provide samples of whole grains for the public. It’s a chance for you to try a whole grain to see if you like it and a chance for all of us to discuss how to incorporate more whole grains into our diets. This year, the Monadnock Food Co-op is celebrating for a full week and I will be serving delicious whole grain food samples on Friday, March 30th from 4 – 6 pm and our Delightfully Healthy! interns will have a whole grain-rich demo from 6 – 7:30 pm.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the reason why whole grains are recommended over grains not considered whole, here are the basics: In a whole grain, all the parts of the original grain are left intact during processing. Therefore, they contain higher amounts of good fats, protein, and minerals than grains that have been more heavily processed—and look more “white.” White flour versus whole wheat. It’s as simple as that.

Whole grain foods are nutritionally superior to their white, processed cousins—this is a fact that as a dietitian, I believe a majority of people know to be true. In fact, as a nation, we are both listening to the science and changing our eating habits. According to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) Food and Health Survey last year:

  • more than 65% of consumers report that they are eating more foods with whole grains compared to years past.
  • Older adults (ages 50-80) in particular are more likely to eat more foods with whole grains, compared to 18-49 year-olds (70% vs. 62%).
  • 76% of respondents rate whole grains as “healthy.”
  • 1 in 5 people have an improved opinion on the healthfulness of whole grains.

Well done, America! Can you say the same for your diet?

I will be highlighting Ancient Grains during our Whole Grain Sampling Day on the 30th. Although most standard grains have been around since ancient times, more unusual “ancient grains” are gaining popularity because they offer unique flavors and add variety to the usual suspects like oats, rice, barley, and corn. Some of my favorites are quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, sorghum, and more exotic cousins of wheat like kamut, spelt, and farro.

How many have you tried? Did you love them enough to incorporate them regularly into your diet? For a more intensive list of whole grains, look here. To find lots of amazing recipes using all different types of whole grains, go here.

I hope to see you at the Whole Grain Sampling Day at our co-op on March 30th, and I hope that this information has sparked some interest in expanding your repertoire of healthy whole grains!

What to learn more about Whole Grains? Be sure to attend our Amber Waves of Grain Workshop led by Nutritionist Cynthia Knipe, on Wednesday, March 28 from 5:30 to 7 pm.