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Uncovering The Whole Truth About Whole Grains

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(NC)—A research poll recently revealed that only seven percent of Canadians understand the important distinction between a complete whole grain product and a grain product*. Even though Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends five to twelve servings from the grain group each day - clearly emphasizing whole grains - most of us aren't making the wisest of food choices! To help you boost your intake, registered dietitian Rosie Schwartz offers the following whole grain information and advice.

Whole grains consist of all three parts of a grain, including: the fibre-rich outer coating of bran; the middle layer of the grain called the endosperm; and, the nutrient-packed inner germ. During the milling or refining process, both the bran and germ are removed from refined grains leaving only the endosperm, the least nutritious part of the grain. Therefore, these refined products do not provide as much nutritional value and health benefits as whole grain products.

Recent research links whole grains to a number of disease-fighting benefits. It suggests that antioxidants contained in whole grains may work with other compounds, including fibre, to reduce cholesterol and overall risk for heart disease. Research has also shown that whole grains appear to play an important role in reducing the risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. For most of us, the fibre in whole grains has always been identified as a benefit to overall bowel health. It helps remove waste products, supports the growth of healthy bacteria and promotes regularity.

Incorporating whole grains into your diet is easy and starts at the grocery store. Lots of great whole grain product options are available in everyday foods such as bread, cereal and pasta. Here are tips that Rosie Schwartz offers to identify these products:

• Scan the ingredient list: whole grain foods will list a whole grain – such as wheat, oats, corn or rice – as the first ingredient. Look for words "whole" or "whole grain" before the name of the grain.

• Don't be fooled by products that claim to be made with whole grain flour. You need to see whole grain flour listed as the first ingredient in order to achieve the greatest benefit.

• Read labels – opt for "whole wheat" over just "wheat," "brown rice" over "enriched white rice" and "whole rye" over "rye."

For more information on incorporating whole grains into your diet, visit www.wholegrainsbureau.ca.

* Findings of a Légér Marketing poll conducted in August, 2003 on behalf of the Whole Grains Bureau. The poll is based on a random sample of 1,100 adult English Canadians.

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