Whole grains: Why are they so difficult to eat?

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian

The Whole Grains Council estimates that the average American eats less than one serving of whole grains a day. It’s true! I know this because I have been tracking my own whole grain intake and I have already missed three days! Obviously, those whole grains can be tricky. Here are my own personal top six reasons for not eating more whole grains.

  1. Whole grains usually cost more than the familiar refined grain products.
  2. Taste and texture is sometimes not enjoyable. Buying the refined grain options is familiar.
  3. Trying something new is scary.
  4. Eating whole grains at home can take more time to prepare. It takes an average of two additional minutes to cook whole grain pasta compared to refined grain pasta.
  5. Everything is very brown.
  6. Finding whole grains is frustrating — even in the grocery store — because the packaging is always tricky saying things like “multi grain.” I read the package and find out my multi-grain bread only has whole oats sprinkled on top and is made with refined wheat and molasses to get a darker color. Tricky!

Those are my top six reasons and some of them are ridiculous — actually most of them. Really Clara, #5 is definitely not a good enough reason to avoid whole grains. To help overcome this, the first step is for me to get more familiar with them and try using only whole grain products. Second is wearing glasses to the grocery store for better reading. Last, but not least, for thinking about overall health cost and how expensive it would be for more medication or doctors visits compared to buying whole grain spaghetti, makes that extra dollar seem very reasonable.

Health benefits

The health benefits of whole grains have been studied very thoroughly and have been linked to decreasing the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, obesity and incidence rates of type 2 diabetes. How?

  • More dietary fiber helps benefit blood lipids to lower cholesterol.
  • Whole grains are usually less processed which equals no added salt and more vitamins and minerals to help control blood pressure.
  • Including whole grains adds fiber, makes us feel full longer and causes a smaller, more gradual rise in blood sugar. Basically, this helps with our waist line and blood sugar control.

Learn more about whole grains and the health benefits at wholegrainscouncil.org