Ask the Dietitian: Whole Grain Tips

AICR recommends including whole grains in most meals as one part of your healthy eating pattern to lower cancer risk. The latest AICR report cites strong evidence that eating whole grains daily reduces risk of colorectal cancer and eating more seems to reduce risk even further.

Recommendations for overall health also emphasize the need to eat more whole grains, with advice to choose them for at least half of all the grain products we eat each day.

Tips on how to boost daily consumption of whole grains.

The average American eats a little less than one whole-grain serving per day. Swap at least two whole-grain servings to replace more refined grains for healthier eating habits.

  • Switch from cereals that are made with refined grains to whole-grain cereals such as shredded wheat, whole-wheat flakes and oatmeal.
  • Instead of white bread for sandwiches or toast, choose whole-grain bread.
  • Swap out white rice with brown rice (quick-cooking options are great way to save time).
  • In casseroles or mixed dishes, instead of white rice or refined-grain pasta, try a cooked whole grain like bulgur, quinoa, millet, sorghum or farro. Although perhaps unfamiliar to you, diverse whole grain options are delicious, and a fun way to add variety beyond your usual choices.
  • For burritos and wraps, choose whole-grain tortillas or other whole-grain flatbreads.
  • Switch your go-to pizza order to a whole-wheat crust. Or get whole-grain pizza dough and make your own at home, where you can load it with lots of delicious vegetables and herbs.
  • Choose toasted wedges of whole-wheat pita bread or whole-grain crackers to dip in hummus or vegetable-yogurt-bean dips.

Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grains not only because they offer more dietary fiber, but also more vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. In addition, whole grains provide plant compounds including polyphenols that may help support antioxidant defenses and promote health in a variety of ways.

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