Healthy Whole Grains for Your Diet

Whole grains are one of the most complete health foods, learn about new healthy whole grains for your diet. Includes descriptions of grains and grain storage methods.

| February/March 2000

Learn about new healthy whole grains for your diet and ways you can incorporate them into your meals. (See the grain photo glossary in the image gallery.)

Storing Whole Grains

Whole grains contain perishable natural oils so it's a good idea to buy them in small amounts. Store your grains in jars or airtight containers in a cool, dark place for about a month. They'll keep at least four months in the refrigerator, but I find that I usually don't have the room so I buy packaged grains or small amounts in the store's bulk section. If you buy grains in bulk, purchase them from a busy store where there's a good turnover and where the bins are emptied before new stock is added. 

Whole grains are among nature's most complete health foods. While most of us are comfortable with wheat, corn and oats, we may be less sure about strange grains such as quinoa. Here are some healthy whole grains for your diet that, if not already familiar, you'll want to get to know.

Barley: Most of the time we're buying refined pearled barley, which is the inner part of the grain containing significant protein, some fiber and B vitamins. Hulled barley is more nutritious, but takes longer to cook. This dense grain requires more cooking water than other grains.

Bulgar: Bulgur is made from crushed wheat berries that are steamed whole, then dried and cracked into grits. It is not the same as cracked wheat, which is uncooked wheat. Finely ground bulgur is used to make the Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Pour boiling water over the bulgur and it's ready in minutes.

Couscous:Although we treat it as a grain, couscous is really a baby pasta made of semolina from durum wheat flour, which is used to make most pastas. White or whole wheat couscous is available in different-size granules. I prefer whole wheat because it's more nutritious and just as delicious. Couscous is ready in minutes by soaking it in boiling water and then fluffing it up with a fork.

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