As a restaurant chain that specializes in pizza and pasta, we love carbs. Most pasta, including ours, is made with refined wheat flour or semolina. But September is National Whole Grains Month, and we want to offer some information about what it means when you eat whole-grain foods.
Anything called “whole-grain” means it includes all three layers of a wheat kernel: the outer bran shell, the inner germ layer (which is the sprouting section of the seed), and the starchy endosperm at the center. With regular pasta, the bran and germ layers are removed from the grain during the refining process, leaving just the endosperm. With enriched flour, iron and B vitamins are added back during manufacturing process.
Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole-grain pastas often feel more filling than traditional, refined white pasta, and they tend to have a chewier texture and grainier taste. Because nothing is removed during a refining process, a 100 percent whole-grain pastas contain a significantly higher amount of natural fiber, along with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Moreover, whole grains contain valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables, including B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and ﬁber.
Whole-grains offer numerous health benefits and have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Other benefits of whole grains include:
- Reduced occurrences of constipation
- Better weight management
- Reduced levels of cholesterol
- Stronger bones
- Improved immune system
Get 3-5 Servings of Whole Grains Each Day
Popcorn, granola and whole grain crackers all have whole grains. Many cereals contain whole grains, and you can find a variety of foods that contain 100% of wheat, corn, rice, oats, and quinoa. When baking, swap out all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour instead. Also consider trying barley, which has the highest fiber content of all whole grains, or rye, which is a healthier option for diabetics because of its lower glycemic index.
Other ideas include eating whole wheat, bran or multigrain breads, muffins or bagels. Try whole grain oatmeal, waffles or pancakes. And cook with whole grain pasta or brown rice.
It’s not hard to switch over to whole grain options for food you love. And you can turn these foods into a complete and healthy meal by adding some fruit, lean protein (or peanut butter) and a glass of milk.