Weight loss habit #19: Switch to whole grain

How to do it:

Start with easy substitutions: Use brown rice instead of white, make your toast or sandwiches with whole wheat, rye, or multigrain bread. Then move on to more drastic changes, such as ditching the donuts in favor of a bowl of oatmeal cooked with a little dried fruit and cinnamon.

The next step would be adding new recipes that include whole grains. Give chicken noodle soup a rest and try mushroom barley. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try some of the unfamiliar grains that are making their way into the supermarket. One of my favorites is faro, an ancient relative of wheat. It can be used like rice, but it’s more interesting—the grains are bigger, more substantial and chewy with a slightly nutty flavor.

Quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth are often included in lists of “whole grains,” but they’re actually seeds, botanically speaking. They’re often ground for flour, or used in side dishes instead of the usual rice or pasta. I grew up with buckwheat, only we called it “kasha.” I can’t get my family to eat kasha, but they like quinoa. I add it to veggie burgers and as a base in a spicy black bean salad. Good stuff.

 

Why do it:

The health benefits are considerable. Whole grains take more time to digest than refined grains, which keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels down and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. They reduce cancer risk by providing antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, and phytochemicals. The antioxidants in oats can help reduce cholesterol, and barley can help reduce blood pressure.

Then there’s taste. Whole grains have more flavor and texture than highly refined grains. Sure, there’s a learning curve, but it doesn’t take long for your taste buds to adapt.

And finally, there’s the weight loss issue, which is why you’re here. People who eat three or more servings of whole-grain food a day tend to have significantly lower body mass index than those who eat less than one serving a day.

 

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Sources:

“The Whole Truth About Whole Grains: 11 reasons to make the switch now.” Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. WebMD http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-whole-truth-about-whole-grains#1