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Barley, Buckwheat and Brown Rice: Great Grains

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you make at least half of your five to eight grain servings per day whole grains. In contrast to refined grains, whole grains retain the nutrients, especially fiber, that are otherwise removed by processing. This helps explain why whole grains can help keep your stomach trim, which in turn helps protect against heart disease and diabetes. Below are examples of whole grains that can easily be added to your diet and ways to make that happen.

Brown Rice – One cup of brown rice naturally contains over 100% of your daily recommended intake of manganese which supports bone development and wound healing. Though slightly chewier in texture, brown rice can be substituted wherever you would use white rice such as in casseroles or side dishes.

Buckwheat – Buckwheat, although technically a fruit, is prepared and eaten as a grain and is gluten-free. Buckwheat’s antioxidant rutin acts as a vitamin C booster, strengthening capillaries and regulating their permeability. Buckwheat’s protein also boosts arterial health by limiting cholesterol absorption up to 47%. Buckwheat is great in pancakes and is also the main ingredient in Japanese soba noodles.

Quinoa – Also gluten-free, quinoa is actually a vegetable related to beets. Quinoa contains more protein than other grains, nearly as much as a serving of turkey breast. A cup of quinoa also contains your entire daily recommended allowance of iron and is a complete protein containing all 10 amino acids. Quinoa can substitute for rice or make a great breakfast when mixed with a bit of maple syrup. Quinoa should be rinsed before preparing to remove is bitter-tasting saponins.

Barley – Providing nearly a quarter of your daily need of fiber, barley contains a type of fiber called beta-glucans that may lower total cholesterol levels including LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. You can substitute barley for rice in any dish.

Oats – Oats provide four times your daily manganese needs, plus phosphorus which works with calcium to promote strong bones and teeth. It is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium. Oats are probably best known for their soluble fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol and reduce diabetes risk. Enjoy as a hot breakfast cereal, as a binder in meat loaf or a crispy topping to a classic apple crisp dessert.

Amaranth – Another gluten-free grain, amaranth was a main food source of the Aztecs. It is a great source of calcium, providing as much per serving as a glass of milk. Plus, its amino acid, lysine, helps promote calcium absorption. Use amaranth flour in baked goods in place of regular flour.

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