Health Reasons You Need to Add More Whole Grains to Your Diet
Diet culture has demonized carbs, but it's time to rethink whole grains, which don't act like simple carbs in the body and carry health benefits and antioxidants you can't get from other foods. The Mayo Clinic says that most of us should actually add whole grains to our plate, noting: "All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals, but whole grains — the healthiest kinds of grains — in particular, are an important part of a healthy diet."
Not to be confused with processed white flour used in white pasta, white bread, white rice, or other baked goods, whole grains are foods like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and buckwheat or spelt. Essentially a whole grain refers to a minimally processed grain that is as close to the picked plant as possible, with most of the grain intact. Grains are a healthy part of every diet, and you should aim to eat at least half of your total grain intake as whole grains, according to The Whole Grains Council.
What are whole grains?
The term 'whole grains' pertains to any grain which retains the entire seed of a plant. The grain is made up of three edible parts:
- The bran: This is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel which contains important B vitamins, antioxidants, and ﬁber.
- The endosperm: The largest portion of the kernel and the germ’s food supply, which contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and some vitamins and minerals.
- The germ: The part of the grain that has the potential to sprout into a new plant, which contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
Types of whole grains
- Brown Rice
- Wild Rice
- Whole wheat
- Whole-grain rye
- Whole-wheat bread
- Whole-wheat pasta
Adding whole grains, like brown rice, and quinoa (which is technically a seed), to your diet is beneficial for a number of reasons. Whole grains have been shown to improve healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and help fight obesity. Whole grains have also been shown to help maintain steady blood sugar levels and not cause spikes and crashes.
Whole grains contain valuable antioxidants not easily found in other plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and ﬁber.
The antioxidants in whole grains include phenolic compounds, such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, coumarins, and tannins. The most abundant phenolic compounds found in whole grains are phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Whole grains have fiber
Fiber is the number one reason to add whole grains to your diet. Take brown rice as an example: It has 3.5 grams of fiber per cup, whereas white rice has .5 grams. So you get seven times the amount of fiber when you eat brown rice as compared with white rice. That fiber slows down the absorption of nutrients and fuel into the body, keeping blood sugar steady and preventing a spike in insulin that instructs the body to store unused calories as fat. If the whole point of food is to fuel you and not leave you feeling energy-depleted or hungry soon after eating, then you want to choose whole grains and choose high-fiber recipes that will help your body feel energized even as you burn fat.
Just by switching from white bread to whole wheat, you can double or even triple the fiber in a slice of bread. When your diet contains more fiber, you keep blood sugar steady, energy levels from crashing, and your body from storing extra calories as fat. Women should aim for at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day. Whole grains are a great way to help you reach your daily fiber goals.
How to incorporate whole grains into your diet
Even if you're short on time, it's easy to incorporate more whole grains into your diet. Brands like Success Rice offer Boil-in-bag Brown Rice and Tri-Color Boil-in-Bag Quinoa, both of which are 100 percent whole grain and can be cooked in just 10 minutes with very little effort, cutting down the usual cook time for whole grains drastically. Either option is perfect for days when you don’t have a ton of time to meal prep and cook. Brown rice and quinoa are a great boost of protein since brown rice has 5 grams per cup and quinoa has about 8 grams of protein in a cup.
The next time you go to buy whole-grain foods, read the label and seek out the word “whole” preceding the word grain. Ideally, the whole grain should be the first ingredient on the list, indicating that the product contains more whole grain than any other ingredient by weight.
Bottom Line: Whole grains are a part of a healthy, balanced diet.
If you’re looking for a quick way to add whole grains into your day, check out the two vegan recipes below that use Success Brown Rice and Success Tri-Color Quinoa.
Easy Whole Grain High-Fiber Recipes to Make on Repeat
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Vegan Dirty Rice
- 1 bag Success Brown Rice
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 small red pepper, diced
- 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- Prepare rice according to package directions using broth instead of water. Drain, reserving 1 cup of broth.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook eggplant, celery, onions, red peppers, and Cajun seasoning for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in rice and reserved broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with parsley.
Substitute chopped mushrooms or canned beans for eggplant, if desired.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This simple quinoa salad is loaded with chickpeas and veggies. Make it using a full head of broccoli and learn a new way to reduce food waste.
Warm Air-Fryer Broccoli Quinoa Salad
- 1 bag Success® Tri-Color Quinoa
- 1 head broccoli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
- 1/2 cup basil pesto
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
- Snap florets from the stem and cut them into small pieces. Trim and discard the tough end of the broccoli stem; peel and cut the remaining stem into bite-size pieces. In a medium bowl, toss together florets, chopped stems, oil, and salt.
- Preheat air fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place broccoli, in batches, in the air-fryer basket. Cook at 400°F for 5 to 7 mins or until golden, crispy, and tender.
- In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, air-fried broccoli, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, pesto, lemon zest, and lemon juice until well combined.
- Chopped broccoli stems can also be used in soups, salads, or stir-fries.
- Add peelings from broccoli stems to water when making vegetable broth.
- Alternatively, instead of air-frying broccoli, roast broccoli in a conventional oven onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with a convection setting at 400°F or regular setting at 425°F for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy.