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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine
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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - January 2007

The Whole Scoop
Dish up a host of health benefits with whole grain goodness.

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Don't look now, but "whole grain" has become the new "low carb." Food labels touting whole grains are popping up on everything from breads and cereals to cookies and pretzels. And this is one food trend that has solid scientific backing, particularly when it comes to heart health, says Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. A number of studies back him up.

The Iowa Women's Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study both have found that women who eat one to three servings of whole grains per day have a lower risk of heart disease. This could be because whole grains, such as oats and barley, are high in soluble fiber, which can lower LDL or bad cholesterol. But the women in both of these studies got most of their fiber in the form of whole wheat, which is high in insoluble fiber. So clearly, the insoluble fiber from whole grains plays a role in heart health, too.

Both studies also found that women who ate at least three servings per day of whole grains had a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of diabetes over the next decade. The evidence isn't as strong when it comes to colon cancer; some studies have found that eating whole grains decreases the risk, and others haven't. The inconsistency may be because many studies focused only on the role of fiber in lowering colon cancer risk and may have overlooked the effects of whole grains themselves.

The positive health buzz goes a long way toward explaining why whole grains are in the spotlight these days. We've learned there's a lot more to them than just fiber. In addition to vitamin E, the B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and iron, whole grains provide a host of health-promoting phytonutrients.

Wheat from the Chaff
All of this creates a strong case for eating more whole grains instead of incomplete, refined grains, which haven't been shown to have the same disease-protecting effects. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend everyone get at least half their grains as whole grains. For adults, this means at least three servings of whole grains a day. A serving might consist of a slice of whole grain toast, ½ cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of brown rice or bulgur, or 3 cups of popped popcorn.

Wheat grainsA true "whole" grain has retained all three of its original nutrient-rich parts: the germ, endosperm, and bran. Even if a grain has been processed, as are cracked wheat, rolled oats, or whole wheat pasta, it's still a whole grain if it retains these three parts in their original proportions. This is why foods with bran aren't necessarily whole grain. They may be missing the endosperm or the germ. Bran does supply fiber, which is important, but it doesn't include the "whole" grain nutrition package.

By the Numbers
How do you know what foods qualify as whole grains? When shopping, look for the words "100% whole grain" on the label or for a whole grain as the first listed ingredient. If the whole grain ingredient is second or lower on the list, the product may contain as much as 49% whole grain or as little as 1%. Be wary of phrases such as "made with whole grain" (often just a little), "harvest wheat" (just a phrase that sounds good), and "whole grain blend" (often a mix of refined and whole grains).

Another assurance that a product is whole grain is this claim on the label: "Diets rich in whole grain foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers." Foods that are legitimately whole grain (at least 51%) can carry this health claim.

Also look for the Whole Grains Stamp, issued by the Whole Grains Council ( A product displaying the "100% whole grain" or "Excellent Source" stamp must contain at least 16 grams of whole grain per serving (one of the three recommended daily servings). A product displaying the "whole grain" or "Good Source" stamp must contain at least 8 grams of whole grain, or a half-serving.

Beyond Breakfast
There's a world of whole grains beyond morning toast and cereal. Try some of these for lunch or dinner alongside chicken, beef, or pork:

Amaranth - This ancient grain (a staple of the Aztec culture) is comprised of tiny seeds that, when cooked, resemble light brown caviar. It's higher in protein than most grains and is especially rich in lysine, an amino acid often missing in grains.

Barley - Commonly added to soups, barley is available in whole, pearled, and quick-cooking forms. It has a mild nutty flavor and contains as much soluble fiber as oats.

Brown Rice - This rice isn't milled as much as its white counterpart, so it retains the bran and germ, making it more fiber-rich, nutritious, and chewy.

Bulgur - This quick-cooking form of whole wheat has been cleaned, parboiled, dried, and cracked. It needs only a soaking to rehydrate and has a long shelf life. It's the primary ingredient in tabbouleh.

Millet - This tiny grain has a mild flavor that is enhanced if roasted prior to cooking. It is even higher in B vitamins than whole wheat.

Quinoa - Actually an ancient grainlike fruit seed that was a staple of the Incas, quinoa cooks quickly and has a mild flavor and a delightful, slightly crunchy texture. Unlike most grains, it contains all of the amino acids your body needs, making it a complete protein.

Wild Rice - This isn't really rice at all but rather a grass seed. Compared with rice, it's richer in protein and other nutrients and has a more distinctive and nutty flavor.

Have whole grains been overhyped? Not when you consider that eating at least three servings a day can reduce your risk of chronic conditions, most notably heart disease. High-fiber whole grains also make you feel fuller sooner, which can help you lose weight. They contain antioxidants and phytochemicals we're just beginning to learn about. So stay tuned - no doubt there's more good whole grain news on the horizon.

Lamb with Two-Pepper BulgurLamb or Pork with Pepper Bulgur
Bulgur is rich in folate, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Spinach and red sweet peppers both contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, believed to help protect against the leading cause of blindness in people over 65.

2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup organic small or shredded spinach leaves
1 medium organic red sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
6 lamb rib or loin chops, cut 1 inch thick (about 1¾ pounds total), or 6 boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds)

ONE In a medium saucepan combine water, bulgur, and onion. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until bulgur is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain if necessary. Stir in spinach, sweet pepper, 1 teaspoon of the lemon-pepper seasoning, and the salt. Cover and keep warm.

TWO Meanwhile, trim fat from meat. Sprinkle meat with remaining 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning. Place meat on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat until done, turning once halfway through broiling. For the lamb, allow 10 to 15 minutes for medium doneness (160°F). For the pork, allow 9 to 11 minutes (160° F). Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness.

THREE To serve, divide bulgur mixture among 6 dinner plates. Top with lamb or pork. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 191 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 49 mg chol., 602 mg sodium, 21 g carbo., 5 g dietary fiber, 19 g protein.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Vegetables
Whole grain pasta has 25 percent more protein, three times the fiber, and fewer calories than white pasta.

8 ounces dried whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta
2½ cups organic broccoli florets
1½ cups asparagus or organic green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup light ricotta cheese
¼ cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
4 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large, ripe organic tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

ONE Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting any oil or salt and adding broccoli and asparagus or green beans the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain.

TWO In a large serving bowl combine ricotta cheese, basil, thyme, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

THREE Add cooked pasta mixture and tomatoes to ricotta mixture. Toss to combine. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese; serve immediately. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 361 cal., 9 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 17 mg chol., 408 mg sodium, 55 g carbo., 7 g dietary fiber, 16 g protein.

Fiesta Quinoa Salad
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