It’s National Nutrition Month and the mantra for March is “Eat more whole grains, less refined grains!” This is sound advice that applies to kids, adults and senior citizens, but how does one go about incorporating more whole grains into their diet? Here are some facts and tips to help:
• The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommend that at least half of all grains consumed by adults be whole, which adds up to 3 to 5 servings per day. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a side of white rice or a slice of white bread, but the focus should be on whole grain foods. Choose nutrient-dense, whole grain foods as part of a healthy eating pattern.
• What are whole grains? In order for a food to be labeled as a whole grain, it must contain more than 16 grams of whole grain ingredients. Examples of whole grain foods that can be found in local markets include brown rice, wild rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, oats, quinoa, amaranth, spelt, sorghum, teff and farro.
• What constitutes a serving of whole grains? Typically a 1/2 cup of cooked grains, a slice of 100% whole grain bread or 1 cup of whole grain ready-to-eat cereal is counted as a serving.
• Why whole grains? They are an excellent source of fiber, which helps regulate the bowels and remove wastes from the body, lowers cholesterol, improves blood glucose control and provides vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, selenium, riboflavin and vitamin A. In addition, the fiber in whole grains will also keep you satisfied and feeling full longer than refined grains.
Eating a well-rounded diet filled with a variety of food is essential to optimum health at any age. For older adults, making the right dietary choices can be the key to successful aging.
The Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is part of The Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services, a full continuum of care provider located on a 34-acre campus in Commack, Long Island. Visit www.gurwin.org to learn more about our award-winning programs.