Whole Grains: What are they and why do we need them?

Whole grains are frequently talked about when it comes to nutrition. Why are whole grains important and what sets them apart from refined grains?

Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet has shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease, lower body weight, and reduce incidence of diabetes. Whole grains provide fiber, vitamins and minerals and they contain high levels of antioxidants.

Here are two grains that may not be your “typical” grains:


Gluten-free amaranth is considered a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids. It’s a good source of minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Amaranth is similar to poppy seeds with their thin outer shells and they give a nice crunch. Adding whole amaranth to the batter of baked goods is a great way to create an interesting texture.


Like amaranth, quinoa is a complete gluten free protein. Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate. Before cooking quinoa, use a strainer to rinse the quinoa and remove the outer coating. Quinoa goes great in salads and casseroles, or even under grilled chicken and veggies. Check out eatingwell.com to find healthy quinoa recipes.


When trying to incorporate more whole grains, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Cook extra. Having the grain cooked can speed up any dinner. Consider freezing half of what you make.
  2. Check the label for fiber.
  3. Start with substituting half of your refined grains with whole grains.

Next time you go shopping, keep your family healthy by choosing whole grains! sy