By now you’ve probably heard about the many health benefits of whole grains (and hopefully started making half your grains whole grains). Brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat bread are some of the go-to whole grain options but there are many, many other kinds to choose from. Here are some other types of whole grains to try.
Barley is a really good source of fiber. In fact, it has the most fiber of all the whole grains. Barley has been shown to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and keep blood sugar stable. When shopping for barley, look for hulled barley rather than “pearled” barley. Although pearled barley cooks much faster (about 30 minutes vs. an hour for hulled barley), pearled barley has had much of the bran scraped off. Without the bran, it is no longer considered a whole grain.
Serving ideas: Barley can be eaten alone as a hot cereal, used to thicken soups and stews, or as a substitute for rice.
Like quinoa, buckwheat isn’t really a grain (it’s a seed). It’s also not a type of wheat – it’s more closely related to rhubarb. Buckwheat is high in protein and gluten-free, making it a good option for people with Celiac or other gluten sensitivity. The kernels (called “groats”) cook in about 20 – 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, look for toasted buckwheat groats (called “kasha”) which typically cooks in 15-20 minutes.
Serving ideas: Cooked groats can be eaten alone in place of oatmeal, or added to salads or soups. Buckwheat flower is used to make soba noodles.
Oats are a good source of fiber and are known to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure. Some different types of oats you may find in the store include oat groats, steel cut oats, and rolled oats. The difference between each of these is how they’re processed. Oat groats are whole oat kernels. Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into smaller pieces, while rolled oats are groats that have been steamed and flattened. Processed oats cook faster, but here’s the good news: all processed oats are still whole grains! Even instant oatmeal counts as a whole grain, but read the nutrition facts label very carefully and choose brands that do not have a lot of added salt and sugar.
Serving idea: Make up a batch of this Be Fit Power Granola for a healthy snack
One final thing to remember: whole grains are still high in carbohydrate. While you’re trying out new whole grain options, remember to pay attention to portion size.
Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE