Grain or seed of the month: Wheat

Published: February, 2020

One of the first cultivated grains, wheat is now ubiquitous in the average American diet. In the United States, about 75% of all grain products (such as bread, pasta, tortillas, cakes, and pastries) are made with wheat. Unfortunately, most of these commonly consumed foods are made with white flour: wheat kernels that have been stripped of their outer bran and inner germ layers and milled into a fine powder. White flour is fortified with some of the vitamins and minerals removed during this refining process. But most of the fiber and other healthful plant-based chemicals found in intact whole grains are missing.

Eating more whole grains is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, which is why the federal dietary guidelines say to "make half your grains whole." But most people aren't even close to that goal. According to the CDC, whole grains account for only about 16% of the total grain-based food adults eat on any given day.

To get more whole wheat in your diet, look for breads, crackers, and pasta that include the words "100% whole wheat" on the label. Bulgur wheat is made from whole-wheat kernels that have been precooked and broken into pieces. It's a key ingredient in the popular Mediterranean salad known as tabbouleh, which also includes chopped vegetables, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.

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