Most of the grains we get in our diet are refined grains. Unlike whole grains, refined grains have had most of the nutrients stripped out.
By switching to whole grains, you can boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. Whole grain foods also typically contain less unhealthy additives (such as sugar and salt). They also contain more fibre than refined grains, which keeps you feeling fuller longer.
There are many different types of whole grain foods. This post lists a few different examples.
Oats are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Regularly consuming oats can lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats also typically have more protein than other whole grains, making them great if you’re on a high protein diet (this post at itsgrowli.com explains extra ways to add protein to oatmeal).
The most common way to consume oats is through oatmeal porridge. Other cereals like muesli also typically contain oats. Consider switching out refined grain cereals for porridge or muesli.
Brown rice is a much healthier alternative to white rice. It is rich in magnesium, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease or a stroke. It is also high in fibre, helping to make you feel more full longer.
When cooking up a rice dish, consider switching to brown rice. This could be great for using in risottos, chillis, for serving with fish or for having with tofu. Avoid eating too much brown rice – the presence of phytic acid can lead to digestive problems if you overeat it.
Whole wheat bread is typically much more nutrient-dense than white bread. It’s rich in b-vitamins and also contains a lot of iron and magnesium, helping to provide energy and aid the immune system. Whole wheat bread also tends to have less additives compared to regular bread. If you eat a lot of sandwiches or toast, consider switching to whole wheat bread.
Wheat is also used in pasta, pancakes, pastries and cereals. In all cases, you can buy healthy whole wheat options instead of products made from refined wheat.
Popcorn is a whole grain and it is similarly full of nutrients. You’ll find Vitamin A, B and E in popcorn. It has a high presence of antioxidants and is generally good for aiding digestion.
The problem with popcorn is that it’s often heavily salted, buttered or sweetened. Popcorn is most healthy when not flavoured with other ingredients. Alternatively, experiment with healthy flavourings like peanut butter or chilli.
You can also get whole grains into your diet through barley. Containing lots of zinc and b-vitamins, barley has many health benefits such as helping to heal wounds faster and reduce inflammation.
There are many ways to incorporate barley into meals. Barley flakes are sometimes incorporated into cereal. Alternatively, you can add barley into soups and stews. Check out this guide at thespruceeats.com for a few different ways to cook with barley.