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Why choose whole grains over processed?

By: Rebecca Bennett, Clinical Dietician at MISH Hospital and Clinics' Kansas Institute of Medicine

Grains

September is National Whole Grains Month. In celebration, we’ll talk about the definition of a whole grain, why they are healthy for us and provide a recipe to try even more whole grains! A whole grain is simply a grain food eaten in its whole, unprocessed form. Examples of grains that can be eaten whole are wheat are corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye.

When manufacturers process the grains they typically remove the bran and germ leaving only the endosperm portion of the plant. The bran and germ contain antioxidants, many B vitamins and vitamin E, fiber and healthy fats that aren’t found in the endosperm only. Eating the whole grain (which is unprocessed meaning all parts of the grain are included) is much more nutritious.

Ensuring at least half of your daily grains are whole grains will help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Cholesterol levels can also be lowered. Eating just three servings of whole grains daily can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25-36% and stroke by as much as 37%!

Whole Grain Pita Pizza

Makes 2 servings

2 round 6-7” whole wheat pitas

6 oz spaghetti sauce (about 1/4 of a typical jar)

3 oz part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup chopped vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, olives – your choice)

drizzle olive oil

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread half the sauce on each pita round. If you’re using chopped fresh spinach, add it now, before the cheese, so it won’t dry out too much.

 2) Top with cheese, divided between the two pizzas, and then vegetables. Drizzle with oil.

 3) Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes on a pizza pan or cookie sheet

Much healthier than store or restaurant pizza because you have a whole-grain crust, plenty of vegetables and a reasonable amount of cheese. Add small bits of Italian chicken or turkey sausage if you like. Kids love to decorate their own pizzas!

Check out http://wholegrainscouncil.org for more information.