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Weight Loss for Better Health
With the Grain Group

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

Diet Article: Gaining health rewards through weight loss.

We have just had a nice discussion on the benefits of the Dairy Group (on this page) in your weight loss plan, so let's march forward to the healthy Grain Group.

14. How can grains assist you in losing weight?

When the food consists of whole grains your appetite will be satisfied for certain - for some time to come. Whole grains always make the best choice over refined grains.

What is classified as grain food selections?

Any food selection that is prepared from rice, wheat, oats, barley, cornmeal or any cereal grain is considered a grain product. Examples include: tortillas, grits, cereals, oatmeal, bread and pasta.

There are two types of grain subgroups: The refined grains and the whole grains. Whole grains are defined as grains which contain the whole kernel (the bran, the germ and the endosperm). Whole grains offer health defenses such as a reduced risk for heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes.

Refined grains are exactly that - they go through a rigorous refining process.

At least one-half of your Grain Group food selections should be in the form of whole grains.

Unfortunately, all products which are labeled 'whole grain' have only a tiny bit inside of the product - not much more than their non-whole-grain peer. To ensure that you're getting whole grain benefits, look at the nutrition label of the product under the dietary fiber content. The product should contain a minimum of 10% daily value of fiber - and if the amount reaches to 19%, the product is a bonafide whole grain selection. Excellent sources contain 20% or more of the daily value of dietary fiber.

Other signs to look for reside in the ingredient list of the product. Look for whole grains to be listed at the first ingredient. If a whole grain isn't mentioned first - then it's not going to be your best choice. Look for: whole wheat, bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole grain cornmeal, whole grain rye, whole oats, whole rye, whole rice or wild rice.

Don't base your selection on the color of the product.

Just because it is brown or dark or golden in color doesn't mean that it's a great whole grain choice. Again, look at the label. If you see the following in the ingredient list: multi grain, stone ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven grain, or bran - these products are not generally 100% whole grain products. They may not contain any whole grain.

You can make some very simple changes in your daily diet to include more whole grain goodness.

Switch out your usual white bread for 100% whole wheat or for bread that contains oats. Opt for brown rice rather than white rice.

At snack time, opt for popcorn that has been prepared in a hot-air popper, or select the healthier microwavable popcorns which contain less fat grams and calories than their buttery compadres. Try not to add any additional fat or sodium (salt) to the popcorn because that will decrease your healthy grain benefits.

Another fantastic snack time grain choice is whole wheat or rye crackers. Enjoy with a tiny slice of reduced fat cheese and some fresh fruit slices.

Some grains take quite a while to prepare, such as pearled barley.

For these whole grains - cook more than you'll use at one meal and then store the leftovers for another meal. This makes easing these types of grains into the next meal very easy. In addition, most freeze quite well for later use in the event you won't use them with a day or two.

Add whole grains to soups, casseroles and salads. Rather than a green-mixed salad, try preparing a pilaf or quinoa salad. For pasta, look for 'whole grain pasta' on the box at the point of purchase.

The next time you prepare stuffed bell peppers, opt for brown rice over white. Rather than adding white pasta to that next pot of chicken noodle soup, opt for the whole grain variety. Even macaroni and cheese can have a dash of healthy benefits added when whole wheat macaroni is used over the white.

When cooking pancakes, waffles or other grain based recipes, try substituting one-half the flour with buckwheat, millet or oat flour. You might require a bit more leavening agent in the recipe.

Another suggestion is to prepare the pancake batter as you normally would, then sprinkle whole oats on top on the set-batter while one side cooks.Turn and finish cooking the pancake.

We'll continue our discussion of the daily diet along with weight loss tips on the following page.

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