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Five smart reasons to get into a whole grain habit

By Staff | Aug 9, 2013

Whole grains come with a whole lot of delicious nutrition in every kernel. That’s the benefit of whole grains. You get the nutrient richness of bran (outside layer), endosperm (inside), and germ (center) in wheat, rye, oats, and other grains. Here are five important reasons to make at least half your grains whole.

1. Fiber- One of the most important nutrients found in whole grains is fiber, which keeps your entire intestinal tract running smoothly. However, fiber benefits go far beyond bowel function. Fiber can help reduce blood cholesterol, normalize blood sugar levels, and aid in weight management, since high fiber meals and snacks help increase satisfaction.

2. Stanols, Sterols, and other phytonutrients- The good news is that whole grains naturally offer a whole lot more nutrition than plain fiber or fiber supplements. Whole grains contain literally hundreds of beneficial plant compounds (phytonutrients). Stanols and sterols are one example. They help lower cholesterol levels by keeping it from being absorbed into the blood stream.

3. Antioxidants- These are substances in food that help protect your cells from aging. Like ‘rust-proofing’ for your car, antioxidants protect your body from negative changes when it is exposed to oxygen. Antioxidants with known benefits for human health include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and several other compounds found in whole grains.

4. Carbohydrates- These key nutrients are the body’s main source of fuel for moving, breathing, thinking, and learning. Our hearts, lungs, brains, and nervous systems need a constant supply of nutrient-rich carbohydrates (also called carbs) to function properly. Whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, and tortillas are some of the best sources of these ‘good carbs.’

5. B Vitamins and Trace Minerals- B vitamins help your body process carbohydrate energy; they work like spark plugs that help your car use gasoline efficiently. Trace minerals are nutrients that we need in very small amounts. Fortunately, whole grains contain three important trace minerals – copper, iron, and zinc – for healthy hearts, blood vessels, and wound healing.

100% Whole-wheat muffins

cup margarine or butter

cup granulated sugar

cup light brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 egg

tsp. vanilla

1 cup low-fat milk

2 cups whole-wheat flour

cup dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 400?F. Have ingredients at room temperature. Line the muffin tin using paper baking cups or use cooking spray to coat the bottom of the muffin tin. With electric mixer, cream margarine, granulated sugar, brown sugar and baking soda together, scrapping bowl with spatula. In a small bowl, using a fork, beat together the egg and vanilla; add to creamed mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the milk to the creamed mixture. Gradually add the whole-wheat flour and lightly stir the ingredients together so dry ingredients are barely moisture. Don’t over mix. Add fruit if desired. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake 15 to 17 minutes or until browned and done. Remove from muffin tin and cool on wire rack.

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