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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Are you up for the Whole Grains Challenge?

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Ask the Nutritionist: Are you up for the Whole Grains Challenge?

In her latest Ask the Nutritionist commentary, the National Restaurant Association’s Director of Food & Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., shares information on how to incorporate more whole grains into diets and menus - and how to be recognized for doing it.

You might have seen recommendations around incorporating more whole grains into the diet, but not sure why they are so important.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend eating at least 3 servings (3 oz.) of whole grain products every day. Scientific studies show that incorporation of whole grain foods and other plant foods along with a low total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol diet may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

A whole grain can be a complete food (oatmeal, for example), or be used as an ingredient (like whole wheat flour). A serving size of whole grains is an ounce-equivalent of food, such as:

• ½ cup cooked oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta and cereal
• 1 oz whole grain bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles
• 1 packet of instant oatmeal
• 5 whole grain crackers
• 2 cups popped popcorn
• 1 ounce of whole grain snack chips

Whole grains consist of all three parts of the grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. With refined grains, most of the bran and some of the germ is removed, which results a loss in fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin E and unsaturated fat (“good”) fat. Relative to refined grains, whole grains provide more fiber, protein, and essential nutrients.

To boost whole grains on menus, consider substituting whole grain products for refined grains (such as brown rice for white rice), using whole oats as a breading or seasoning for baked chicken or fish, substituting whole wheat flour for white flour in recipes (try up to ½ of the required flour amount), and offering whole grain bread or rolls instead of white bread or rolls. Look for recipes that include whole grain ingredients, such as:

• Whole wheat
• Whole-grain barley
• Buckwheat
• Whole rye
• Brown rice
• Whole oats/oatmeal
• Millet
• Quinoa
• Popcorn

The Whole Grains Council is currently running its 5th annual Whole Grains Challenge, which promotes whole grain consumption and recognizes restaurant and foodservice outlets for serving whole grain menu items. All establishments that offer whole grain items on their menus are encouraged to compete in the annual awards program. The Whole Grains Challenge is open for online submissions through November 8. Are you up for the challenge?

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