Seeds and whole grains: An easy way to boost nutrition

If your diet is lacking in seeds and whole grains, you’re missing out on lots of important vitamins and minerals. Here’s how seeds and grains can boost the nutrition of your meals

Seeds and whole grains: An easy way to boost nutrition

Source: Web exclusive, September 2010

You probably already include lots of fruits and vegetables in your balanced diet, but your healthy-eating plan may be missing a super-nutritious element’grains, bran, germs and seeds.”Each type of grain offers a unique benefit, so it is highly recommended to choose a variety of whole grains to optimize the nutrition in your meals,” explains Erin Armitage, a registered dietician based in Kingston, Ontario.

There are many types of whole grains that are proven to be super nutritious’and lots of ways to add them to your diet.  But if your grandma’s raisin bran muffin recipe is the only one that comes to mind, read on for ways to incorporate these wholesome staples into your everyday meals.

Ground flaxseeds

Known for strengthening nails, making hair shiny and giving skin its healthy glow, flaxseeds are growing in popularity, especially as a breakfast staple. "Although these plant seeds are not actually grains, they are excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats (the good type of fat) as it lowers bad cholesterol and is a good source of soluble fiber, which helps to regulate your bowels," explains Armitage.

How to use it: Flaxseeds are best absorbed by the body when they are ground. Try adding 1-2 teaspoons into your breakfast oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or smoothie.

Where to find it: local bulk foods store


This superfood is an ancient, plant-based grain with high amounts of iron and fiber. Quinoa also packed with protein (eight grams per cooked cup/250 mL), and B vitamins.

How to use it: Try substituting rice with quinoa. "Cooked quinoa can be made into salads by adding fresh herbs, vegetables, nuts, oil and vinegar. You could also try making quinoa for a breakfast cereal and top it with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey," shares Armitage. Where to find it: organic/health foods section of grocery store or bulk foods store.

Wheat germ

The germ is the vitamin- and mineral-rich embryo of the wheat kernel that is removed when whole wheat grains are refined into white flour. "Wheat germ is an excellent source of vitamin E," says Armitage. Its also packed with nutrients such as folate, thiamin, vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium and manganese.

How to use it: Add to sauces, soups, muffins, pancakes, cereal and yogurt. Where to find it: The cereal aisle or your local bulk or health foods store.

Oat bran

“Oat bran is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which helps keep bad cholesterol down,” says Armitage. She adds that fibre also and improves overall digestive health, which can help keep you more regular.

How to use it: Similar in texture to wheat germ, this grain is also very easy to add to your everyday meals. Start by sprinkling oat bran on your usual breakfast cereal in the morning to boost your daily fibre intake.  You could also try adding it to yogurt and into your favourite muffin and pancake recipes.

Where to find it: The cereal aisle in the grocery store, near the rolled oats and other hot cereals or in your local health or bulk foods store.

Tip: Read labels and ingredient lists carefully

Read the packages front to back to be aware of what you are buying and eating. Steer clear of words like multigrain, which may simply mean there are a number of grains used in the product and not that the grains are whole or unrefined. "Instead, look for the words ‘whole grain’ on the label and on the ingredient list," Armitage advises. She adds that while some grains are not suitable for those with severe food allergies, most people will benefit from a variety of grains, especially expecting mothers and older adults.

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