Eating grains, especially whole grains, provides many health benefits. Recent research suggests that whole grains can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and diabetes. The grain group includes wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley, and rye. Generally, adults need the equivalent of five to eight ounces each day. This is an achievable goal due to how small of a serving size this is. One ounce equals one slide of bread, one cup of breakfast cereal, or half of a cup of cooked rice or pasta.
Do you know the difference between refined grains and whole grains? Most of us eat largely-refined grain foods such as white bread, white rice, crackers, bagels, and pretzels. However, whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn provide better health benefits. That is why MyPlate encourages us to make half of our grains whole. This means we should eat at least 2.5 to 4 ounces of whole grain foods everyday. Unlike refined grains, whole grains retain the highly nutritious bran layer and germ. These are lost during the milling process to create refined grains. The bran and germ contain most of the grain's beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help slow down the aging process and may lower the risk of many diseases.
You can make economical choices and still include whole grain foods in your diet. Oatmeal that is packaged in a large canister is one of the lowest-priced whole grains. You can also look for store brand shredded wheat, raisin bran, and bran flakes. Store brand whole wheat bread often costs about the same as white bread. It is important to remember that when purchasing bread, a lot of "wheat" bread is made mainly with refined white flour with added coloring from caramel or molasses. Check for "whole wheat" on the label rather than just "wheat". Whole grain foods have about 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories or about 2 to 3 grams per slice of bread. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the package to see how much fiber is in the food before you buy. Try this delicious A to Z Oat Bran Muffins recipe to help get your daily grains intake.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12 count muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil and egg. Whisk until well blended. Stir in the apple and zucchini. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir only until moistened; the batter should be slightly lumpy. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and springy to the touch. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.
Nutrition per muffin: 134 calories, 5.4 grams total fat, 0.6 grams saturated fat, 17 milligrams cholesterol, 142 milligrams sodium, 1.3 grams fiber and 21 grams carbohydrates.
This article is referenced by Smart Choices, Nutrition News for Seniors with the LSU AgCenter, MyPlate from USDA and Let's Eat for the Health of It, Make At Least Half Your Grains Whole.
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