|Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Fruit and Blueberry Compote|
In the past several years, whole grain foods have been getting a lot of attention. There are whole grain breads, crackers, pastas, and more in supermarkets. What are whole grains and why are whole grains good for you?
Studies have consistently suggested that whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease. Some research also suggests that whole grains lower the risk of diabetes and cancer.
Whole grains are high in fiber, which: (1) helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease, and (2) slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help improve blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. In addition to fiber, whole grains also contain potent phytochemicals which have health benefits that are only recently being recognized.
- A study that analyzed the diets of more than half a million men and women found that the people who ate the most whole grains had a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate the least.
- A different study showed that people who consumed at least 3 servings a day of whole grains (half a cup of cooked oatmeal or other grain counts as one serving) had a 20-30% lower risk of diabetes over the next decade than people who ate roughly one serving a week.
Whole grains are made up of three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. When grains are refined, most of the bran and germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm. The bran contains most of the grain’s fiber along with B vitamins, while the germ contains antioxidants, vitamins E and B. Although vitamins and minerals are added back to refined grains, the phytochemicals are lost and so is much of the fiber.
Here is a list of whole grains to get you started:
- Oatmeal (steel cut oats, old fashioned oats, quick-cooking oats)
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Buckwheat (kasha)
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
When buying products made from whole grains, such as breads, crackers and pastas, be sure to read the label and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list (look for “whole wheat flour”, not just “wheat flour”; wheat flour is refined and often bleached) . There are now some good quality pastas made from whole grain flours, which are a great way to introduce whole grains into your diet.
Whole grains make a hearty and healthy breakfast cereal. Oats, millet, quinoa and buckwheat can be enjoyed as hot breakfast cereals. When cooked with dried fruit, little additional sweetener is needed.
One of my favorite breakfast whole grains is steel cut oats because of its chewy, hearty texture. Although rolled oats and quick-cooking oats are further processed than steel cut oats, nutritionally, there’s not a huge difference between these three types of oats; however, stay away from instant oatmeal which has had most of the bran removed in processing, and often contains a lot of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and salt. It’s best to add your own sweetener (agave nectar, honey, maple syrup) and flavoring (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamon).
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Dried Fruit
Note: Quick-cooking steel-cut oats are now available that do not require pre-soaking; they take about 5-7 minutes to cook.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium eat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is syrupy.
This recipe has been posted at Parent Grapevine.
More Whole Grain Recipes:
Anticancer Ingredients: Whole grains, Blueberries