No Cook Meals
No Cook Meals
April 7, 2020
Mediterranean Stir Fry
Mediterranean Stir Fry
April 7, 2020

Whole Grains: A Mediterranean Staple

A Big Part of the Mediterranean Diet

Whole Grains

Packed with fiber, protein, B vitamins, and trace minerals – whole grains are a staple in the Mediterranean diet and can be included with most meals.

Which grains have you tried? Traditional grains of the Mediterranean Diet include:

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Polenta
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa

What makes a grain “whole” might you ask? Well, whole grain kernels are made up of three nutrient rich parts:

Bran – the outer layer of the kernel filled with fiber, iron, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and folic acid), trace minerals (zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese), and phytochemeicals (plant compounds with antioxidant properties)

Endosperm – the starchy carbohydrate rich center with small amounts of B vitamins and minerals

Germ – the central core of the kernel packed with nutrients including healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitaminsWhole Nutrition:

Unlike refined grains, which are stripped of nutrients found in the bran and germ during the refining process, consuming whole grains provides you with “whole” nutrition that support numerous health benefits:

Fiber – helps maintain blood glucose control, lowers cholesterol, and improves digestion by helping waste move through the large and small intestines

Vitamin E – protects cell membranes and is a powerful antioxidant

Iron – helps transfer oxygen to tissues and muscles which can help fight fatigue and boost immunity

B Vitamins – while each B vitamin has its own specific role, together they help maintain healthier hair, skin, and nails; form red blood cells which helps boost energy; and promotes healthy immune and nervous systems

Zinc – plays a variety of roles in our bodies including immune function, creation of proteins and DNA, wound healing, and taste and smell sensory

Copper – helps our bodies absorb iron

Manganese – an essential nutrient that our body needs to help digest, absorb, and utilize other nutrients including proteins, carbohydrates, and many vitamins and minerals

Selenium – a powerful antioxidant, that helps prevent cellular damage from free radicalsNutrients and Health:

The combination of nutrients found in whole grains has lead to a multitude of health benefits! Consumption of a diet rich in whole grains has been associated with:

  • Decreased insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lessened inflammation
  • Healthy digestion
  • Better weight maintenance
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Lower risk of stroke and heart disease

With all of the health benefits associated with whole grain consumption, no wonder whole grains are a staple in the Mediterranean Diet!Now, time to eat:

Here are a few ways you can start incorporating more whole grains into your diet at every meal, anytime of day:

Breakfast:

  • Open faced egg sandwich on whole grain toast
  • Overnight oats
  • Apple walnut & cinnamon oatmeal
  • Zucchini Bread made with amaranth
  • Banana walnut muffins made with buckwheat flour

Lunch:

  • Wild rice salad
  • Kale & quinoa salad
  • Mediterranean chicken wrap on a whole grain pita
  • Falafel wrap on who grain tortilla
  • Bulgur wheat & tabbouleh salad

Dinner:

  • Baked chicken over barley
  • Wild salmon & avocado with a side of quinoa or wild rice
  • Pesto pasta with zucchini and chickpeas
  • Grilled shrimp and vegetable skewers over whole grain orzo
  • Quinoa stuffed peppers

Prioritizing whole grains at your breakfast and lunch meals will help keep you feeling fuller longer and stabilize your blood sugars throughout the day – no more mid-afternoon crash! To ensure you receive all the benefits whole grains can provide, be sure to mix up you grains from day to day and meal to meal as each grain contains a different nutrient profile. Have some fun swapping out grains with one another, explore, experiment, and enjoy!