Add whole grains to your diet

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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We all know that it is important to consume foods that add fiber to our diet.

One way to add fiber to our diet is to choose bread, pasta and rice products that are whole grain. But sometimes it is a challenge to determine exactly which products are whole grain.

Whole grains are not hard to find once you know a few simple facts. Whole grains are grains that include the bran, endosperm, and germ. There are not that many grains that we consume as whole grains.

Look at the food label for clues as to whether the food does indeed contain whole grains. Usually, just looking for the word whole is a good start.

There are several other grains that are whole grains – corn, popcorn, brown rice, barley, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgur, and quinoa. Grains are called refined grains when only certain parts of the seed are used.

Look at the food label for 100 percent whole grain, wheat or oats. A phrase like multi grain, wheat bread or made with whole grain doesn’t mean the product is made entirely with whole grain.

The color of the product is no help either. Sometimes brown coloring is added to a refined grain product to give you the impression that it’s whole grain. A white variety of whole grain wheat is used, making the whole grain product white.

Another place to look on the food label is the ingredients list. If the first ingredient listed is whole wheat or other whole grain and the only grain or flour listed in the ingredients list, the product is whole grain.

Whole grains lose 25 percent of their protein along with 17 other nutrients when they’re refined. Experts recommend that whole grains make up at least half the grains we consume. Researchers have shown that whole grains lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and obesity.

Remember that a product made with whole grain may have other ingredients that make it less than ideal. A product can be made from whole grain and also contain large amounts of sugar, unhealthy fats or sodium.

Be sure to try the following recipe containing whole grains from AgriLife’s Dinner Tonight program.


Servings: 4

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast boneless, skinless, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free garlic/herb seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 10.5 ounce can chicken broth, reduced fat, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with seasonings. Add chicken pieces. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until chicken is done.

Add onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, rice, tomatoes and spinach. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer about 10 minutes.

Turn burner off and let stand for 5 more minutes or until rice absorbs most of the liquid.

Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 8 g total fat (1 g saturated fat); 270 mg sodium; 4 g dietary fiber; 32 g protein.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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