You’ve all heard moms and experts say, “Eat your vegetables.” I wholeheartedly agree with them, but you’ll also hear me say, “Did you have your whole grains today?” Sadly, so many people answer this question with a gigantic “NO!”
Some people have banned grains from their lives, and some just feel like they don’t have time to cook them. I am here to tell you that whole grains are essential—don’t be afraid of them and don’t be intimidated to cook them.
Whole grains are an easy way to get your fiber! Did you know that almost all Americans don’t get enough fiber? Whole grains are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing down the digestion process. Insoluble fiber helps food to pass through the stomach and intestines. Simply put, fiber keeps things moving! Whole grains also come packed with b vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals.
Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Here are five easy swaps of processed food for whole grains.
- Swap cereal for oatmeal
One of the simplest swaps you can make is to swap sugary cereal and even plain, less sugary cereal for oat meal. Quick oats only take a few minutes to make! Add some nuts and dried fruit to boost the protein and flavor.
- Swap pasta for whole grain pasta
Any type of pasta is processed but traditional pasta is what I called ultra-processed. Over the past decade, there has been more of a demand for whole grains, so food companies are catching on. You can buy whole wheat, brown rice quinoa, or multigrain pasta, and even some Italians I know have vouched at the surprising deliciousness of some varieties.
- Swap white rice for brown rice, barley, buckwheat, wild rice, quinoa or millet
White rice is processed. Try brown rice as a simple swap and I definitely recommend trying quinoa or millet because they cook as fast as white rice. Barley and buckwheat are tasty, mega-delicious whole grains as well.
- Swap white bread for whole grain bread
Look at your ingredient list on bread. Make sure that the first ingredient is whole wheat flour or whole grain flour. Look at the fiber content…the more fiber, the more likely the bread is packed with whole grains. I recommend finding bread that has at least four grams of fiber per slice.
- Swap chips for popcorn
You read that right! I am recommending popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain. Air pop it at home and use a sprinkle of olive oil instead of butter and season it how you like…a touch of sea salt or pepper. Spice it up with chili pepper! Or sweeten it with a tiny bit of brown sugar and some cinnamon!
I hope you try some of these swaps. You will feel so much more satiated when you welcome whole grains into your life and thousands of studies have shown how whole grains help in weight loss and maintenance and even better, they can help you live longer!