February is American Heart Month, a time designated to highlight ways we can all take better care of our hearts and improve our overall health. As we are all aware, one of the best (and tastiest!) ways to a healthy heart is eating a well-balanced diet full of whole foods: fresh vegetables, legumes, lean meats, and, one of our favorites, hearty whole grains!
Among many other benefits, a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole grains has been shown to:
But have you ever stopped to consider why whole grains are so important (and so different from the refined grains found in many processed foods)? Most of the nutrients found in grains are contained in the bran and the germ – two parts which are typically removed during the processing of refined grains, flours, and other items. But because whole grains are unprocessed (or minimally processed), these important components are retained, making them vital sources of essential nutrients, like dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals!
So now we’re all on board with whole grains, but how do we incorporate them into our diets? One of the nicest things about grains is that there are so many to choose from: buckwheat, quinoa, barley, and spelt, just to name a few! And because each has its own unique flavor, texture, and nutritional profile, you’ll probably want to incorporate a variety of different whole grain options throughout the day. To get you started, here are some of our favorite tips:
• Learn to love oatmeal. Each serving contains 4g dietary fiber, 6g protein, and 15% of the recommended daily value of iron! Or mix things up by trying some of the many different whole grain cereals available.
• Say no to white bread! Whenever possible, opt for breads with whole grains listed as the first ingredient.
• When baking, use whole wheat or spelt flour in place of refined white flours. In most recipes you can substitute 50%-100% of the flour called for. Feeling even more adventurous? Try experimenting with alternative grain flours!
• Add grains to soups and salads for added flavor and texture.
• Making stir-fry or roasted vegetables? Easily swap out the white rice with brown. Or, take the rice out altogether and substitute with bulgur, kasha, or quinoa.
• Use quinoa flakes, rice flakes, or barley flakes in place of breadcrumbs in casseroles, toppings, and breadings.
To help you on your path to a heart-healthy diet, we’ve taken 25% off a large selection of our organic and all natural whole grains! Stop by ShilohFarms.com through February and save!