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Whole Grains as part of a healthy diet have been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease, lower body weight and reduce incidence of diabetes. Lately this nutrient dense power food has gotten a bad rep because of the gluten-free diet trend.

Let’s take a moment to clear up the misconception: Gluten is a protein found in certain grains like wheat, barley and rye. Because gluten helps make foods taste better and improves their texture, it’s also added to everything from deli meats to French fries.

Celiac Disease is considered to be the most under-diagnosed common disease today, potentially affecting 1 in every 133 people in the USA. Gluten intolerance is the result of an immune-mediated response to the ingestion of gluten that damages the small intestine. Nutrients are then quickly passed through the small intestine, rather than being absorbed. To develop celiac disease (CD) three (3) things must be present: 1) you must inherit the gene, 2) consume gluten and 3) have the gene triggered.  The gluten-free diet is not recommended for either weight-loss or health benefits. It’s primarily intended for those with CD or gluten intolerance.

When purchasing whole grains you should know grains are divided into two subgroupswhole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains only contain the endosperm. The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing and your hair shiny. The high fiber content whole grains result in a more controlled blood sugar compared to refined grains, falling lower on the glycemic index. 

Did you know that even if bread labels advertise “seven-grain” or “multigrain,” they are not necessarily whole grain products? The FDA is updating the Nutrition Facts panel, cracking down on whole grain labeling. Check the Nutrition Facts Panel to make sure whole-wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient and find loaves made mostly with whole-wheat or other whole-grain flour. Any bread labeled “whole wheat” must be made with 100-percent whole-wheat flour. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making half of the grains you eat whole, so use whole grains instead of a refined-grain product.

Here are just a few examples of whole grains. The GF represents gluten-free for those who have CD or gluten intolerance.

·      Brown Rice (GF)

·      Wild Rice (GF)

·      Buckwheat (GF)

·      Steel Cut or Rolled Oats

·      Quinoa (GF)

·      Barley

·      Rye

·      Bulgur

·      Spelt

·      Wheat Berries

·      Farro

·      Kasha (GF)

·      Popcorn (GF)

·      Whole Wheat Pasta

·      Whole Grain Bread

·      Amaranth (GF)

·      Millet (GF)

·      Seitan 

·      Wheat Germ

Whole grains are offered throughout Brandeis Dining. You can enjoy hot side dishes at our serving stations in Usdan and Lower. For example the Quinoa and Roasted Corn Salad compliments the Spicy Black Bean Burger at the Vegan station in Lower, and the Chick Pea Vegetable Stew down in Sherman is a great vegetarian option over some Brown Rice. Simple Servings in both locations offers a variety of gluten free grains, both hot and cold offerings. The salad bars have several composed salads, mixing whole grains with vegetables, legumes and even cheese and meats. The HOOT Market has whole grain bread, composed vegan entrees and even brown rice sushi! You can find whole grain breads across campus from the local La Ronga bakery. Don’t forget about oatmeal at the HOOT, Sherman and Usdan, especially on these cold mornings! Please feel free to contact me directly for more whole grain offerings on campus.

Please feel free to contact me directly with questions about whole grain and gluten-free offerings around campus!

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org

Gluten Intolerance Group at www.gluten.net

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