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The anatomy of a grain

grainanatomy

The seeds of certain plants such as wheat, corn and rice that are used for food are called grains. There is much confusion about what constitutes a whole grain, the benefits of whole grains and what foods routinely contain whole grains.

To better understand what constitutes a grain it is important to understand the anatomy of a grain.

Bran
A single grain kernel has a multi-layered, outer, edible coat or skin called the bran. The bran contains a variety of B-vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.

The Germ
Inside the kernel of grain is a small ‘embryo’ which has the potential to grow into a new plant. The germ contains B-vitamins, some protein, minerals and health fats.shutterstock_75767707

The Endosperm
The majority of the space inside a kernel of grain is made up of endosperm.  It is the largest portion of the kernel and is rich in starchy carbohydrates, contains some protein and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The germ feeds off of the endosperm which can provide necessary energy should the seed sprout and grow roots.

Whole grains
According to the Whole Grain Council a whole grain contains “all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.” That is, a whole grain contains all of the bran, germ and endosperm.

If the grain has undergone any kind of processing such as cracking, crushing, rolling, extrusion or has been cooked the food “should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed” to be considered a whole grain.

Corn is an example of a whole grain as well as oats, wild rice, brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, amaranth, wheat berries and others.

Whole grain stamp
Knowing when a food product contains whole grains can be tricky. Claims like natural grains, multi grain and more flood food packages. There is a quick way to ensure that the product you are buying is made from whole grains, and that is by locating the whole grain stamp on the product packaging.

StampCollage150dpiWhole grain stamps are yellow and have the shape of a postal stamp. There are two types of stamp: the basic and the 100% whole grain stamp.

If a product has at least eight grams of whole grain (half a serving) it can list the basic stamp on the package and list how many grams of whole grains it has. Even if a product has a large amount of whole grain, it will use the basic stamp if it also contains refined flour, extra bran or germ. If all of the grain ingredients of a food is whole grain, AND it has the minimum requirement of 16 grams of whole grains per serving (a full serving), then it will use the 100% stamp.

The stamps on the packaged food are an easy way to ensure that you are choosing a food with whole grains. You can of course always read the ingredient labels to make sure that they list whole grains such as whole wheat.

Happy shopping!

Celebrate Halloween, not the candy

halloween candyHalloween. The crisp, October breeze in the late afternoon and the mounds of giggly, costumed kids running around the neighborhoods asking for treats is a sight to be seen! Halloween is a fun day filled with laughter, surprises, tricks, and…treats.

Many parents wonder what to do with the candy, most of which have little or no nutritional value. Kids want to eat it (preferably all in one sitting!); parents want to curb its consumption. Some parents want the treats out of sight to avoid the temptation for their own sake!

Here are a few suggestions to having a guilt-free Halloween: Continue Reading »

The benefits of eating a healthy breakfast

colorize
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” a million times. You may have heard other claims about breakfast in the media, from health experts and others. So is all this hype about breakfast true? Let’s review the facts.

Breakfast gives you energy to start the day. Breakfast helps regulate blood sugar levels by literally breaking the fast and providing your body with the fuel it needs to function properly throughout the day.

Breakfast improves diet quality. Research shows that people who skip breakfast are less likely to meet the recommended intakes for important nutrients like folic acid and calcium. Studies have demonstrated that if you start your day off with fruit, you are more likely to reach the daily recommended servings for it. Continue Reading »

Build A Better Sandwich (and how it fits into MyPlate)

 Sandwich for lunch, anyone? Take advantage of this simple lunch creation to increase your vegetable intake. Whether you are making the sandwich at home, buying it or creating it at one of the work cafeterias, you can COLORIZE your sandwich. 
 
Lettuce, onions and tomatoes are commonplace on a sandwich, but consider “sandwiching” in additional fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and spinach as fillings. You can also try sliced tomatoes, olives, pickles, onions, lettuce, bean sprouts, avocado or herbs.
 
First, start off by choosing a lean source of protein. Roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken may be some choices to consider. When choosing protein, check the amount of sodium in prepackaged and even deli-fresh meats since most run high. You can cut the sodium by roasting your own meat at home for a sandwich, or simply ask at the deli counter for a low sodium alternative. You can also create a veggie sandwich by choosing a bean burger, or simply create a roasted veggie sandwich. Get creative. Use cream cheese, hummus or avocado.

Hydrate with Color

It’s hot outside, so make sure to stay hydrated this summer. Add fresh fruit to your water for a unique flavor burst. Fill up pitchers of ice water and flavor it with fresh, in-season fruit, such as peach slices and raspberries.

You can also try slices of apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, lemons or limes. Feel free to add a handful of mint leaves or cucumbers for a refreshing taste that’s not as sweet.

Adding single-serve flavor packets may also add sugars, calories and other additives. Opt for flavoring your water naturally.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water in relation to their weight. Grapefruit, watermelon and strawberries have a high percentage of water. So do cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini and celery. Eat plenty of these on warm summer days. Continue Reading »

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