Healthy Variety with Alternative Grains

By: DEBORAH AUGUSTIN

Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ

Incorporating whole grains into your diet is an easy way to get healthy.

According to Choose My Plate, the United States Department of Agriculture’s nutritional web site, whole grains are an important source of B vitamins, fiber, and a number of minerals. They are also linked to a reduced risk in heart disease, and according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, can help to decrease abdominal fat. Yellow polka dot bikini, anyone?

Fortunately, whole wheat and rice – the two most common whole grains – are not the only options when it comes to eating more whole grains. Quite recently, alternative grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and spelt have started to become popular. And although quinoa and amaranth are actually seeds, not grains, they are treated and cooked like corn and the rest of its grain family.

Once confined primarily to health food stores, these grains are now readily available in most supermarkets. There are also an increasing number of breads and pastas that are made with these grains, offering alternatives to people with gluten allergies or intolerances. For those suffering from celiac disease, the increased availability of alternative grain products makes cooking a little easier. Spelt, buckwheat, and barley flour can also be used to bake bread, pizza dough, pancakes, and other baked goods. Be careful, however, to not rely too heavily on packaged alternative grain products.

“It is better to eat the whole grain as opposed to bread or pastas. They have been processed to a degree with added ingredients,” warns Dr. Lori Shemek, Ph.D. and author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn.  “It is always best to opt for the whole grain because its nutritional components trigger less of an insulin response. Insulin creates inflammation in the body and is the ‘fat storage hormone’ so it is important to be mindful of the types of carbohydrate sources we consume.

Vegetarians, too, benefit from adding more grains to their diet. They are high in protein and iron.

“Besides adding variety to your diet, these grains are much more nutritious,” said Dr. Lori Shemek, Ph.D. and author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn. “For example, quinoa is a superior protein compared to other grains.  It is a powerful source of minerals, including calcium magnesium, potassium and iron.”

If you’re anything like Carrie Bradshaw and use your oven to hold shoes, you’ll be happy to know that cooking grains is relatively easy.

“I make grains more now that I have a rice cooker!” says Kath Younger, a registered dietitian. “You just measure the grain and water and set the machine to cook for you. There is no need to watch the pot for over-boiling or worry about whether all the water is absorbed.”

To beat the heat, Younger also suggests adding grains to a refreshing summer salad.

“My favorite way to use alternative grains is a chilled salad,” she says. “I cook the grain and then mix in veggies, cheeses, nuts and dressings to suit my mood (try two of her favorite millet salads: Feta Millet Salad and Spiced Millet Salad). These are great to have in your fridge and use for packed lunches, quick dinners, or picnics throughout the week.”

Don’t be afraid to experiment with these alternative grains this summer! Whether in your oatmeal or salad, adding grains to your meals will make you feel fuller longer.

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One Comment on “Healthy Variety with Alternative Grains”

  1. Willette Viruet
    November 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Gluten allergy can be sometimes annoying because i have to bake and eat special gluten-free food stuffs. ;

    Remember to look at this useful web site
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/vitamin-d3-side-effects/

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