By Sade Meeks, MS,RD
Happy Valentine’s Day! This day is a reflection of what each day should be, full of love! Love of family, love of friends, and I must say, love of whole grains! Yes! I can’t talk about love without mentioning this heart healthy nutrient. In fact, whole grains, as well as foods low in sodium and saturated fat are part of a heart healthy diet.
Heart health is important to combat health conditions like heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women. According to the American Heart Association, a heart-healthy diet from an early age lowers cholesterol and if followed through adolescence and beyond, should reduce the risk of coronary artery disease in adulthood (1).
As noted, choosing more whole grains promotes a heart healthy life. Unfortunately, on average our children eat less than one serving of whole grains per day. Many whole grains are being replaced with refined grains (2).
|Whole grains vs Refined Grains|
|Contain the entire Grain Kernel||Bran and germ (nutrients) removed|
|Fiber, Iron, B Vitamins Remain||Fiber, Iron, B Vitamins Removed|
|Nutrient Dense||Enriched with Iron and B Vitamins|
|Fiber rich||Lacks Fiber|
|Contain Phytochemicals and Antioxidants||Contain dense calories|
|Whole wheat, brown rice, sorghum, quinoa, Messy Monkeys,||White bread, cakes, cookies,|
How can we get more whole grains into our child’s diet?
Whole grains may not always be as appealing as cakes and cookies, so they may not be your child’s obvious first choice. If whole grains are only thought of as brown, boring foods, it may be a challenge to get our little ones to eat more of them. Thankfully, as parents and caregivers we can help shift that perspective. It could be as simple as including some fun whole grain snacks like Messy Monkeys. Your little one probably would have never guessed Messy Monkeys is packed with whole grains like sorghum and quinoa. Not your average, boring whole grain snack, right? Check out more ways to help shift you and your child’s perception of whole grains.
Fun Ways to do Whole Grains:
- Make homemade pizza with whole wheat pizza crust
- Have taco night using whole grain tortillas and include whole food toppings like beans, corns, peppers, and fresh salsa!
- Add fresh fruit and oatmeal to child’s yogurt
- Use fruits and veggies to make face on top of a whole grain open faced sandwich
- Use whole grains in mixed dishes. i.e. whole wheat pasta in spaghetti or lasagna
- Experiment with different whole grains – brown rice and whole wheat pasta aren’t the only whole grains. Try buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, sorghum, whole rye or barley.
- Add guacamole, hummus, or bean dip to whole grain crackers