Whole-grain foods offer nutritional benefits, Kansas State U. experts say-(Kansas State U.)

U-WIRE

04-13-07

(U-WIRE) MANHATTAN, Kan. -- According to human nutrition and grain science experts at Kansas State University, one food source possibly can prevent many health problems and satisfy hunger at the same time. These experts are speaking of whole-grain foods, which they say may help prevent heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, constipation, diabetes and high blood sugar.

"It's incredible what health benefits are possible with whole-grain foods and that you also don't have to sacrifice any taste," said Mary Meck Higgins, associate professor of human nutrition. Higgins noted that, unfortunately, whole-grain foods are less common than refined-grain foods. Refined grains are the result of removing the germ and bran from whole grains during the milling process, Higgins said.

"This is done because refined grains can be preserved longer without the germ," said Higgins, who has studied research and taught classes concerning whole-grain foods for seven years. "However, by losing the germ and bran, a lot of nutritional value is lost during this process."

According to a K-State Research and Extension Web site, the most common types of whole grains are brown rice, oatmeal, pearl barley, popcorn and wild rice.

Higgins said a person should strive to eat three to five servings of whole-grain foods per day but also said it is rare that people do. "I think a lot of people have the misconception that whole-grain foods take long to prepare and become discouraged with trying whole-grain foods," Higgins said. "But instant brown rice is very quick and easy, as are many breakfast cereals that have whole grains and also popcorn."

But though time and preparation might not be problem, Higgins said there are other difficulties in attempting to add whole grains to one's diet.

"Whole-grain foods can be hard to identify," Higgins said. "You often times have to investigate the ingredients label to find out if it's whole grain or not. In my opinion they should put that information where it's obvious."