How to Eat More Whole Grains

Most of us would do well to eat three or four servings of whole grains a day (a slice of

Most of us would do well to eat three or four servings of whole grains a day (a slice of whole-grain bread being one serving). Most Americans eat less than one serving a day. If you’re ready to go for the grain, but don’t know where to begin, don’t worry–it’s easy to do.

Start your day with a high-fiber cereal.
Look for a brand with the word “whole” in the first ingredient and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Avoid sugary cereals; try to keep the sugar grams per serving in the single digits. That way, you’ll control calories and stay off the blood-sugar roller coaster that leads to mid-morning hunger pangs and food cravings. Top your cereal with berries to squeeze in a fruit serving. For protein, pour on some fat-free milk and maybe some ground flaxseeds.

Buy bread and rolls with the word “whole” first on the ingredient list.
Don’t be fooled if the label says, “made with wheat flour;” that could be true of both whole-wheat bread and angel food cake. If a product is truly whole grain, the label will list whole wheat, whole oats, or some other whole grain as the first ingredient.

Switch pastas.
Try whole-wheat pasta, especially the new high-fiber, high-protein varieties; they’re even friendlier to your blood sugar. Some are made from grains such as oats, spelt, and barely in addition to durum wheat, which means they’re higher in soluble fiber. And yet their taste and texture is surprisingly close to regular pasta choices.

Bake with whole stuff.
Give a boost to homemade baked goods by replacing one-third of the white flour with whole-wheat flour.

Use fibrous fixings.
Bran cereal, oat bran, and wheat germ make good condiments when sprinkled over oatmeal, applesauce, cottage cheese, or yogurt. In recipes that call for breadcrumbs, try oatmeal or whole-grain bread–toasted, then reduced to crumbs in your food processor.

Choose brown rice–but only now and then.
Eat brown rice instead of white and you’ll get six times more fiber and far more vitamins, minerals, and other healthy plant compounds. Just keep in mind that even brown rice bumps up blood sugar quite a bit, so don’t eat it more than once or twice a week, and limit yourself to 1/2 cup serving. Tip: Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so start early–or make a big batch and freeze meal-size portions.

Plus: Health Whole Grains: Recipes and Taste Profiles

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest