From Our Blog

More from the blog »
Global Network

Those Cancer-Fighting Whole Grains: From A to Q

Why We Love Whole Grains

Today, there's a wide world of whole grains increasingly making their way into stores and onto menus. Many have unfamiliar names (think teff) and several look alike. But they each have a unique flavor and nutrient content.

Here, we'll help you decipher which whole grains to grab and ways to eat them.


The Whole Grain

All grains begin as a whole grain, seeds that contain all of their bran, germ and endosperm. These small, but mighty whole grains are packed with cancer-protective fiber, phytochemicals and other nutrients.

They also taste delicious.



This colorful grain -- technically a seed -- is one of the few whole grains that is a good source of protein. One serving of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) contains 6 grams of protein, about the same as 1 slice (1 ounce) of cheese. Quinoa comes in white, red and black varieties, with subtle flavor and texture differences.

Quinoa soaks up the flavor of the liquid it's cooked in, so cook it with vegetable or chicken broth for a simple side dish. Add it to soups and salads or as a hot cereal like Quinoa Oat Porridge. Before cooking, rinse quinoa to remove its natural bitter coating.


Brown Rice

With your first bite of brown rice you'll notice it has more texture and chewiness than its white counterpart. If you are used to the soft, fluffy texture of white rice it may take a few tries before you learn to love brown rice's richness.

Try brown rice with your favorite stir-fry or in pilaf with a few vegetables. Although regular brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, you can now easily find quick-cooking brown rice and pre-cooked microwavable packets. Try Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken Breast with Cherry Brown Rice Pilaf.



Barley boasts some of the highest fiber content of the whole grains with just over 5 grams per 3/4 cup serving. This grain contains high levels of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber with cancer fighting properties. Beta-glucan may also play a beneficial role in insulin resistance.

Cook barley in soups to add more body along with a nutty flavor. Barley makes salads - and even stir-fries - more substantial.

Toasted Lemon Barley Pilaf with Walnuts



Teff is a tiny, gluten-free grain from North Africa. It leads the grains in calcium content - one cup of cooked teff has about as much calcium as one-half cup of whole milk.

Teff is also high in a type of fiber called resistant starch, which is being studied for its effects on insulin levels.

Look for teff to add to stews or breakfast porridge with fruit and nuts. People commonly use teff as flour. At Ethiopian restaurants, you can eat Injera; a flatbread made with teff flour.



Also gluten-free, sorghum is a common grain in parts of Africa, India and other arid areas around the world. This grain is becoming increasingly popular, having a molasses-like flavor.

Try replacing some white flour with sorghum flour in muffins or in these Pumpkin Pancakes.

If you find sorghum grain, add it to pilafs and soups, or pop it like popcorn!



Amaranth is a seed-like whole grain high in calcium and iron. It's also a complete protein - it contains all essential amino acids our bodies use to make the proteins we need.

Amaranth provides a nice nuttiness when toasted and adds great flavor to bars like these Whole-Grain Fruit Bars. Replace 1/2 of the whole-wheat flour with toasted amaranth and you'll never want to buy your fruit bars again. 

Amaranth is often prepared like popcorn with a sweetener added (known as "algeria" in Mexico) or as a pilaf with vegetables.



You may first think of oats as a breakfast food, like oatmeal, granola or other cold cereals. But rolled oats are also delicious in breads, muffins and pancakes. Or try them in turkey burgers or meatloaf as a substitute for bread crumbs.

Research shows that eating oats as a regular part of your diet can help lower blood cholesterol probably due to its soluble fiber.

Try your morning oatmeal in a different way, Hearty Baked Oatmeal, this is a hearty and filling plant-based meal.


For more information:

See below for more information on whole grains, ways to cook them, and how they may reduce risk of cancer.

AICR's Foods that Fight Cancer™

From the AICR Test Kitchen: Pasta, Rice and Whole Grains

Healthy Kids: Go with Whole Grains

Questions: Ask Our Staff

Talk to us!

Our planned giving staff is
here to help you!

Ann Wrenshall Worley

Ann Wrenshall Worley

Assistant Director of Planned Giving

Call Us: (800) 843-8114

Send us a note