Power of the Grain: Smart Carb Choices

10.04.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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Welcome back to the WOW Nutrition Corner with me, Jane, the Redskins team dietician!

I hope your trip to the grocery store last week was inspiring. I’d love to hear how you met your goals or the challenges you experienced- use the comment box at bottom to share!

Let's continue our tour through the grocery store by entering one of the most confusing and controversial areas in the world of nutrition; carbs. I get more questions, including those from Redskins Players, about this topic than anything else - probably because mixed messages regarding this important macronutrient are everywhere!

The following information is what I share with the players to help them make smart carb choices:

1. Choose “Whole Grain” for maximum nutritional impact.

Whole grains have been in the news lately and for good reason – they are a nutrition powerhouse! “Whole grain” means the manufacturer maintains all 3 parts of the grain, as opposed to stripping off two parts and leaving the less nutritious, starchy part (like most processed bread, pastas and crackers).

Choosing foods that maintain the “whole grain” provide you with more nutrients, including fiber (reference below: anatomy of a grain of wheat). Studies have shown that people who consume a high fiber diet (25–35 grams/day) tend to be leaner. Fiber helps manage our weight by making us feel full quicker and keeps our hunger at bay for a longer period of time. Fiber also keeps our digestive system running smoothly – think of it as the natural detoxer! To learn more about the benefits of fiber: Click Here.

How do you know if a product is whole grain? I always chuckle when I ask a client what type of bread they use and they answer “the brown stuff”. It is true whole grain tends to be a darker color than the more processed white bread, but did you know that some manufactures use brown food dye to make their product “look” healthier? Looks can be deceiving!

2. Check the label.

Some manufacturers are making it easier to spot whole grain products by using the certified stamp pictured below. Not all products have this stamp, so the next step is to read the ingredient list, also pictured below. The first ingredient should say “WHOLE," since ingredients are listed from what the product contains most to the least. To learn more about reading food labels, visit this interactive website.


So, how do you integrate these foods into a healthy diet? Here are some suggestions:

Sample Day of Smart Carb Choices:    

     - Enjoy a bowl of whole grain cereal for breakfast
     - Choose whole wheat bread/pita for your sandwich at lunch
     - Whole grain crackers with string cheese for a snack
     - Include brown rice as your starch for dinner

Some Whole Grain Snack Ideas!    

     - Popcorn! Choose a low fat, reduced sodium version
     - Hummus with whole wheat mini pitas
     - Homemade trail mix (i.e. Chex cereal with dried fruit/nuts)
     - Granola sprinkled on yogurt

For this week I challenge you to add a goal to include more whole grains in your daily diet. Make your goal specific and write it down. To learn more about making goals with staying power, visit Psychology Today’s Goals Guide.

Make it a healthy week!

- Jane

Have nutrition questions for Jane? Post them below and she will try to answer them in an upcoming post!

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