Friday, June 20, 2008

6 Whole Grains for Weight Loss

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By: Sophie Pachella

Reviewed By: Susan Janoff, MS RD LD/N

All grains start life as whole grains, meaning that they haven't had their bran and germ removed--a process that removes quite a bit of fiber and other nutrients. Among many health benefits, a high-fiber diet also tends to make a meal feel more filling, which helps when you're cutting back on calories. Whole grains contain important antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins and fiber as well as complex carbohydrates, some protein and trace amounts of healthy fats. In other words, whole grains offer us virtually everything we need for balanced nutrition.

Here are some of my favorite whole grains, along with ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Wheat germ:

This super grain contains an abundance of benefits. It helps to improve muscular energy and strength, helps improve reflexes and may enhance endurance during exercise. It can protect the body during stress and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Wheat germ has been used for centuries to relieve constipation. It helps strengthen the immune system and lowers cholesterol. Wheat germ is especially rich in Vitamin E and is also a good source of important B vitamins such as folic acid and minerals including magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium manganese, and zinc. All this and delicious too!

* Add wheat germ to pancake batter, muffin batter, and other baked goods
* Sprinkle on top of yogurt, oatmeal, cereal or into smoothies
* Use in lieu of breadcrumbs for breaded chicken


Pronounced keen-wa and known as the "Mother of all Grains", this grain contains more protein than any other. Quinoa is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper. The protein in quinoa is complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that our bodies can't make on their own.

* Substitute your morning oatmeal with a bowl of quinoa, and sweeten as you would your oats
* Substitute for rice in any pilaf or stir fry recipes
* Add to soups or stews
* Use in lieu of rice to make a high-protein "rice pudding"

Steel Cut Oats

Oats have the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you regular, two helpful weight control aids. Eating oats on a daily basis can lower cholesterol. They're also a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. One cup contains less than 150 calories, making it an excellent choice for those who are watching their waistline.

* Add oats to meat loaf instead of breadcrumbs
* Improve your pancakes—grind 1 cup oats in coffee grinder, add 2 egg whites 2/3 cup skim milk, 2 tablespoons protein powder (optional) and a pinch of salt. Cook as you would regular pancakes. You can also toss in some wheat germ
* Ground oats can be substituted for flour in any baking recipe


Flax seed are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, barring certain fish. Merely one teaspoon of flaxseed oil supplies the suggested daily requirement. Flax is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it appealing to those watching their weight. The fats in flax are the kind which can help our bodies burn fat—so it's a smart idea to include it in your daily diet.

* Add flaxseed oil or flax meal to yogurt and oatmeal
* Drizzle on steamed veggies, grilled fish or chicken, or any dish which calls for olive oil
* Stir flax meal into hot and cold cereals, as well as and bread or baking batters
* Mix ground flax with whole wheat bread crumbs to bread chicken or fish
* Combine 1/2 cup almond/peanut butter with 3/4 cup nonfat milk powder, 1/2 cup flaxmeal, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup crushed walnuts. Roll into little balls, then roll in wheat germ. Chill for 1 hour or more before serving.


Millet is believed to enhance fertility. It has high concentrations of numerous vitamins, as well as a high volume of protein—a little over one tenth of the grain is protein. In addition, millet is gluten free. Very mild in flavor, it can be used in a variety of dishes.

* Heat 2 cups skim milk with chopped dates, flaked coconut, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup millet. Simmer until cooked through (oatmeal consistency). Options include adding nuts, raisins and flaxmeal.
* Substitute for rice in stuffed pepper or tomato recipes
* Use millet in any couscous or pilaf recipe


Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nut-like flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Barley is a very good source of fiber and selenium. It also serves as a good source of the minerals phosphorous, copper and manganese. The fiber in barley is especially healthy; it may lower cholesterol even more effectively than oat fiber.

* Add to soups and stews. Here's one stew recipe: combine barley with cubed lamb, diced tomatoes, chopped onion, beef broth and seasonings for a hearty winter meal.
* Substitute barley for rice in risotto recipes
* Toss with beans, chopped vegetables and a vinaigrette for a light meal
* Substitute barley for pasta in cold pasta salad dishes

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