Rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. Studies have shown whole grains to be beneficial in weight management and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
Cereal grains are generally made up of three components: the endosperm, the germ and the bran. The endosperm is the seed's tissue, the germ is its embryo and the bran is its outer layer. Unlike processed or refined grains, which contain only the grain's endosperm, whole grains contain the entire kernel. It's not necessary to eat like a squirrel, however, to enjoy the healthy benefits of whole grains. These three grains and bran products can be easily incorporated into a balanced and delicious diet.
Oats For Breakfast
Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal is an easy way to integrate whole grains into a diet, as long as the full kernel is included. Quick-cook oatmeal doesn't qualify as a whole grain. Oats have more dietary fiber than any other grain. They also have as much protein as soy, which helps stave off hunger when used to reduce weight gain.
Whole oats can be used in baking a variety of breads and cookies as well.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including just three grams of soluble fiber from foods like whole oats in a daily diet can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Wheat Bran At Lunchtime
Because bran has essential fatty acids that decrease the shelf life of wheat breads and other baked goods, manufacturers often remove the bran during processing. Bran is rich in fiber and nutrients, however, and is a primary reason why whole grain products are universally acknowledged as healthier than refined grains.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends consuming 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories to decrease the risk of heart disease. A slice of whole wheat bread typically contains two to five grams of dietary fiber. A single bran muffin can have four to eight grams.
Brown Rice Dinners
Brown rice contains the whole kernel of the rice grain, making it a better alternative than white rice, which lacks the grain's bran. A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating more than four servings of white rice each week increased the likelihood of developing diabetes while eating just two servings of brown rice decreased the risk.
Brown rice contains gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid associated with improved kidney function and lower stress levels. Activating the amino acid, however, requires soaking the rice at a precise temperature before beginning the cooking process.
Preparing and cooking brown rice to perfection can be challenging. Unless properly prepared, the rice can be bland, mushy or unpleasantly chewy.
Fortunately, today's best rice cookers come with auto-cook features that make it easy to cook brown rice to the right texture and flavor while enhancing the grain's health benefits. For those who plan on eating brown rice often, investing in a rice cooker from the Zojirushi NP series is a great option when it comes to cooking brown rice correctly and conveniently.
Equipped with "fuzzy logic" microchip technology, these savvy devices adjust cooking times and temperatures to ensure that the brown rice is cooked perfectly every time.
All models in Zojirushi's NP series feature special GABA brown rice settings that automatically activate the healthful amino acids for optimal health benefits.
Types of whole grain products range from breakfast cereals to popcorn. As long as the entire kernel of grain is retained in the preparation, processing and cooking, and is from a non-GMO source, whole grains should be enjoyed daily as an important and tasty component of a healthy diet.
Matthew Laphet is the owner and creator of Rice Cooker Guide. An online resource providing reviews and guidance on popular brands and models along with offering folks new recipe ideas, how to information, and the opportunity to leave their own review for posting.