With diet fads changing as quickly as a viral TikTok dance, it is hard to hang your hat on any lasting information. As a popular show host once said, ”one day you’re in, and the next your out.” Between social media, local news stations, and the internet as consumable forms of dietary education, this constant intake of information might leave your plates overflowing.
We at Arrowhead Mills have found that healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. The desire to take something simple and make it more difficult than needed seems to be a younger generational conquest. Sprouting grains, beans, and seeds isn’t a new or even revolutionary concept. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. You’re already reading this blog — so odds are, healthy is already a main dish for you.
History of Sprouted Grains
Dating back to century-old Chinese, sprouted seeds have held their origin of discovery in legumes. By consuming sufficient quantities of mung beans that had sprouted aboard their moist ships, the Chinese learned they could avoid scurvy. Sprouting meant that the newly available Vitamin C was made absorbable, which did not go unnoticed by the Chinese.
You might not have realized that sprouts more everyday uses. Beer, for example, can be made from a myriad of sprouted grains. It is only with modern farming techniques that grains have withheld the opportunity of germination for consumption. Unfortunately, after the wave of industrialization to our food and farming systems, we have traded nutrition for convenience.
Health Benefits of Sprouted Grains
In sprouting, the bran becomes neutralized. Not only do the Vitamin B content and carotene increase, but they also allow for the absorption of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. In some seeds, vitamin absorption increases eightfold!
The process of sprouting also helps to neutralize enzyme inhibitors that would otherwise offset our very own digestive track enzymes. If you find yourself a victim of gas and bloating, it would be worth noting that sprouting breaks down the complex sugars that make their way to the intestines, transforming into gas. While digestion is the name of the game, the system itself should be aided by not only what we put into our body but by how we put things into our body.
Ways to Eat Sprouted Grains
Sprouted grains can be consumed raw, but one should not over-consume in this form. Lightly cooking or steaming the sprouts is not only recommended but often preferred. You will soon find sprouts are a delicious addition to dishes like salads, soups, casseroles, sandwiches, even ground and used in bread recipes. Sprouts will quicken the leavening action of yeast bread and help unleavened bread rise. Most importantly, they will improve the nutrition of any meal. Now that sprouts up some BIG ideas!
In our busy world, breakfast can feel like the last thing you want to think about, but truthfully, breakfast can help energize you for the day.
Making the intentional choice to eat breakfast every day, or even just some days, can also have enormous benefits for your health goals! If you want to start eating breakfast more regularly, don’t just grab any option. To reap all of the amazing benefits of breakfast, you’ll want to find something both delicious and healthy.
Keep reading to learn just why we love breakfast so much at Arrowhead Mills, and how you can start adding breakfast back into the routine.
Benefits of eating breakfast
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do you know why? According to the International Food Information Council, eating breakfast is one of the healthiest decisions you can make.
Healthy breakfasts can help manage weight because they tend to be high in fiber and vitamins. These ingredients mean breakfast can also aid in heart health, metabolism, digestion, bone health, and more.
Breakfast is also known to naturally prevent fatigue and improve brain power. Studies show that kids have increased memory, concentration, and mood levels when they eat in the morning, but everyone can benefit from a well-rounded breakfast.
Easy breakfasts when you’re on the go
The hardest part about breakfast, of course, is feeling like you have the time. Luckily, Arrowhead Mills wants breakfast to be simple for your whole family.
All of our options have tons of fiber with no sugar added, keeping your digestive system happy with no after-breakfast crash. Our foods are also completely organic and gluten-free, helping you put only the best in your body.
Consider taking your cereal to the next level by adding some fresh fruit or a bit of honey!
When you’re ready to sit down
If you have a little bit more time on your hands, but don’t want to make something completely from scratch, check out our Pancake and Waffle Mixes.
If you want something with a bit of fall flavor, then you’ll love our Apple Cider Pancake and Waffle Mix. Or, if you want to take a peek at all of our other delicious options, head here for our product page.
When you’re having guests over, or want to make a special breakfast, check out our recipe page where we frequently add new, creative, and healthy ideas to make breakfast simple for you and your family!
Cereal is a great breakfast or snack item when you need something hearty to get you through the day.
Unfortunately, many popular cereal brands are full of artificial flavors, processed ingredients, and sugar. Most also lack the nutritional benefits that used to make cereal healthy and delicious. Many health-conscious individuals shy away from cereals now because it can be so hard to find healthy options.
Arrowhead Mills is working hard to bring healthy cereal back! Our cereals are heart-healthy, nutrient-dense, made with healthy and filling fiber, and, of course, yummy! We even have gluten-free options.
Keep reading to learn about why you should add cereal back into your diet, and what makes some cereals stand out.
Benefits of cereal
Depending on the type of cereal, there are many different benefits of fitting it into your diet.
For one, cereal is just so simple. Pour it into a bowl with your favorite milk and it’s the easiest breakfast ever. As many of us know, starting your day off right is crucial to feeling energized and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. A simple breakfast can encourage you to continue the healthy habit.
Cereal can also contribute to a balanced diet. Many healthy cereals are high in fiber, which will help keep you full all morning long. Fiber can also help keep your gut healthy and regular. Soluble fiber is also in our organic cereals and is one of the keys to a healthy heart.
Finally, choosing a healthy bowl of cereal is a low-calorie and low-fat alternative to many other breakfasts, preventing you from feeling weighed down throughout your day.
Getting creative with cereal
Cereal is a classic breakfast meal, but you can eat it even more if you want!
Hot cereal has gained popularity recently, like our Bulgur Wheat Cereal, which goes great with warm milk. Have it on chilly mornings or drop in some cinnamon to create a soothing warm dessert.
Cereal can also be a great snack. Consider using it to make sweet treats more filling and healthy. Our Steel Cut Oats, for instance, go great in desserts. You can even test it out in our Pumpkin Spice Smoothie.
Our Puffed Rice Cereal is a great alternative ingredient for popular rice crispy treats too. Just look at your favorite recipe and replace the rice crispies with our puffed rice!
Finding the perfect cereal for you
Not every cereal is perfect, but at Arrowhead, we’re helping people everywhere remember just how great cereal can be! We have tons of creative options to meet every taste preference.
Looking for something gluten-free? Check out our Maple Buckwheat Flakes. Likely sweetened and perfectly crunchy, these are a great way to fuel your day.
Want a classic-tasting cereal? Try our Spelt Flakes that have a light and nutty flavor.
Finally, want something new and a bit unique? Our Kamut Cereal is a high-energy ancient grain with a rich flavor and great nutritional benefits.
The benefits of a plant-based diet and why you should consider it!
Plant-based — we’ve all heard it before. While some may consider it a “trend” in the diet culture, it’s so much more than that. There are many reasons why someone may choose to focus on eating more plants. A plant-based diet consists of minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. This kind of lifestyle can do wonders for your mind and body. It has a wide range of fantastic benefits, from health, environmental, and ethical advantages. So, what might be some of those benefits, and why are they so impactful?
The most widely-known benefit of eating a wholesome plant-based diet is its many health benefits. Choosing fruits and vegetables over their less-healthy counterparts can do amazing things for the body, even in small doses. One of which is lowering the risk of heart disease. Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and affects 1-in-5 people? A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that following a plant-based diet can reduce cardiovascular mortality by up to 32%.
Eating a plant-based diet can even treat type-2 diabetes and can help reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, eating more plants can help in weight management. Its highly fibrous nature helps you stay fuller longer with fewer calories consumed and even helps support your gut’s natural microbiota. Not only does eating a plant-based diet aid in diseases, it dramatically improves your mental health! It has so many health benefits; we’re only touching the surface! If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, we recommend watching the documentary Forks Over Knives.
Choosing a plant-based diet affects not only our bodies but our environment as well. The National Library of Medicine studied the “Plant-Based Dietary Patterns for Human and Planetary Health” and came to some shocking conclusions. Approximately 83% of farmland is used to produce meat, eggs, fish, and dairy, but it only makes up 18% of our calories consumed. In addition, the meat industry is accountable for 67% of the deforestation caused by agriculture. The most significant factor causing extinction amongst our ecosystems is the destruction of land to make more pastures to support the ever-growing demand for animal agriculture.
Choosing a plant-based diet can also help curb the steadily inclining greenhouse gas emissions affecting our planet’s atmosphere. Plant-based diets also require less water and land than animal-based diets, making them more sustainable in the long run. But that’s not all. The meat industry affects our planet in many ways than just this. If you’d like to learn more about the meat agriculture industry and its effects on Earth, we recommend reading scholarly articles on Google.
For many people, choosing a plant-based diet is also a matter of ethics. On top of all the human and planetary health reasons we stated above, the idea of animals suffering is enough to choose a plant-based diet. Many people believe that all sentient creatures have a right to a free life. This becomes more of an argument now that we have the resources to produce plant-based alternatives. The meat industry is becoming more exposed now that people are determined to find the truth about where our food comes from. Industrial farming has been said to be “one of the worst crimes in history.”
For some, it’s understandable that, as humans, it’s natural to eat meat occasionally. But, it’s less accepted knowing that these creatures, who have thoughts and feelings, are losing their lives in cramped, disease-ridden assembly lines, never seeing the light of day until it reaches the slaughterhouse. Knowing that you’re not contributing to this industry is enough to make this dietary change. If you’d like to learn more about the conditions these animals live in, we recommend watching the documentary Food, Inc. but keep in mind that it’s not for the faint of heart.
If these reasons are enough to change your eating habits and you’d like to learn more about eating plant-based foods, be sure to read our Beginner’s Guide to Eating a Plant-Based Diet! You will find some of the most commonly asked questions and our top tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet there. The important thing is to understand that even small changes make significant impacts. Take one day at a time and find ways to change your diet sustainably. Let us know why you choose to eat a plant-based diet!
Answering the most common questions about eating a plant-based diet and how to start transitioning.
We’ve all heard about the “trendy” plant-based diet. But it’s more than just a trend! It’s great for those who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and can even help improve mental health. We recommend reading about the benefits of a plant-based diet to learn more! While that sounds nice and dandy, we live in a world where it’s easier to drive through your local fast-food restaurant than to meal prep a week’s worth of food. Our goal is to help spread awareness of how approachable eating a wholesome diet can be. In this guide, you will find the answers to the most commonly asked questions and our favorite tips on making better food choices in your day-to-day life.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet consists of minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. This is not to be confused with a vegetarian and vegan diet. Many plant-based eaters still enjoy meat and dairy products. We like to consider this diet as “plant-focused,” meaning it prioritizes naturally grown foods rather than heavily processed ones (while you can certainly still enjoy a nice Big Mac from time to time).
Is eating a plant-based diet expensive?
No! It’s quite the opposite. According to a study in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, meat-eaters can save $750 a year by switching to a plant-based diet. But it doesn’t stop there! Eating a healthy plant-based diet could help lower your risk for serious long-term diseases saving you thousands of dollars in medical bills. Sounds like a win-win situation!
How will I get my protein?
This question pops up a lot. Luckily, protein can be found in many plant foods like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan, nuts, and seeds. The most important thing to know is when your body shows signs of protein deficiency. You will know you’re not getting enough protein when your body starts to swell and you start to experience mood swings, fatigue, and frequent food cravings, especially sweets. If that’s the case, make adjustments to your diet as needed.
Will I feel full and satisfied eating a plant-based diet?
Yes! A plant-based diet can be very satisfying and filling. Whole foods are generally high in fiber, which can help you feel full for extended periods. Adding healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds to your meals can also help you feel more satisfied. If you’re still not feeling full, trust your gut. Listen to your body and eat as much as you need. Besides, this is a journey, not a race. Find what works best for you!
How do I deal with social situations, such as dining out or family gatherings?
We understand navigating social situations following a plant-based diet can be challenging. However, there are usually plant-based options available at most restaurants, and you can always let your server know your dietary needs. When attending family gatherings, bring a plant-based dish to share! Communicating with your family about your dietary needs is also helpful. You could inspire others to make better food choices. Worst case, let yourself be free! We don’t believe in boxes. While a plant-based diet is the healthiest, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the rules 100% of the time!
See, it’s not so bad! There are certainly pros to eating a plant-based diet. But it’s easier said than done. So here are our top tips on transitioning to a plant-based diet and sticking with it!
Start small – you don’t need to go all out right away (unless you want to). This is a journey that certainly looks different to everyone. Make small changes, like switching your white bread to whole wheat. Eat a raw diet until 4 pm, then eat what you want at night. Eat out one day less this week. Get creative!
Motivation isn’t constant – feeling invincible one day and like a failure the next is okay. Inspiration isn’t linear. It ebbs and flows. Understanding and allowing yourself to have your lows will help you reach your highs. When you’re feeling unmotivated, we recommend trying a new recipe to get the sparks flying again!
Never stop learning – there’s so much to know about a healthy diet. Everything seems simple, but there’s more to it than that. We’re a big fan of books! We recommend reading Fiber Fueled by Will Bulsiewicz MD.
Listen to your body – since we’re here for the journey, it’s important to note that our bodies may respond differently to these changes, especially when you’ve lived a particular lifestyle for so long. Look for cues that your body is trying to tell you. For example, being mindful will not only help you eat what’s best for you, but it will also help you stay consistent with what makes you feel good.
*While research suggests that plant-based diets can improve mental health and other chronic diseases, it’s important to note that everyone’s dietary needs are unique. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about making any dietary changes.
Here are the top ingredients every home should have to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal any day of the week.
It’s Monday, and you have no desire to go to the grocery store. You open up your pantry and realize it has everything but the essentials to make a healthy meal, so you resort to the unhealthy options you can find. If this has ever happened to you, it’s time to make a change. A well-stocked pantry is the key to preparing delicious and nutritious meals at home. It’s essential to have a variety of ingredients on hand to ensure that you can make a range of dishes without having to run to the grocery store every time you cook. Using what you have in the pantry also allows for more open-minded, creative meals, making cooking fun! Here are the top ingredients our pantry could never go without.
Rice/Grains Rice is a staple food in many parts of the world and an essential ingredient in many dishes. Whether you prefer long-grain, short-grain, or brown rice, having a bag of rice in your pantry is a must. Not into rice? Quinoa, barley, and farro are wonderful options as well.
Pasta Pasta is another versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes. It’s a great way to stretch a meal. Pair pasta with sauces, vegetables, or meat to make a hearty dinner.
Canned Tomatoes Canned tomatoes are essential in many recipes, from soups and stews to pasta sauces and chili. Use them to add flavor and acidity to a variety of dishes.
Beans/Legumes Whether you prefer black beans, kidney beans, lentils, or chickpeas, having a variety of canned or dried beans in your pantry is essential. They are a great source of protein and can be used in soups, stews, salads, and more.
Flour Flour is an essential ingredient for baking and can also be used as a thickener in sauces and gravies. All-purpose flour is the most versatile. However, depending on your dietary needs, you may also want to stock up on specialty flour like whole wheat, spelt, or coconut flour.
Cooking Oils Having a variety of cooking oils on hand is important for different cooking methods and flavor preferences. Olive oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil are great choices to have in your pantry.
Spices/Herbs Spices and herbs can take a dish from bland to flavorful in seconds. Some essential spices to have in your pantry include salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, rosemary, and oregano.
Stock/Broth Stock or broth is a flavorful liquid that can be used as a base for soups, stews, and gravies. Whether you prefer chicken, beef, or vegetable, keeping a carton or two in your pantry is always helpful.
Vinegar Vinegar is an acid that can add flavor and balance to a dish. Having a variety of vinegar in your pantry, such as red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, can add depth and complexity to your dishes.
Sweeteners Whether you prefer sugar, honey, or maple syrup, keeping a sweetener in your pantry is essential for baking and adding sweetness to dishes. Other sweeteners to consider include agave nectar, stevia, and molasses.
Can you see why having a well-stocked pantry is essential for cooking and preparing meals at home? The ingredients listed above are versatile, making them great staples to always have on hand. By stocking up on these ingredients, you can ensure that you always have the tools you need to make delicious and nutritious meals for yourself and your family.
Our go-to grocery list for making nutritious meals any day of the week.
Eating healthy is important for maintaining good physical and mental health. One of the most effective ways to ensure that you eat a healthy diet is to cook your meals at home. Keeping your kitchen stocked with essential items allows you to make healthy meals with minimal effort.
Here are essential items you will always find in our grocery carts:
Your first thought that comes to mind when you think about popcorn may be the buttery, salty kind at the movie theater. While this is undeniably delicious, it should only be an occasional indulgence because of its ingredients and nutrient profile. The good news is popcorn is versatile and can take on many flavor profiles, so it doesn’t need loads of butter and salt to be delicious. Sweet, salty, or freshly air-popped, popcorn has the satisfying crunch of a chip but packs way more beneficial nutrients. Read on to learn more about why popcorn has a place in your snack rotation.
Popcorn has a great nutrition profile
Popcorn has so many great features, including texture, nutrient composition, versatility, and low-calorie density. Compared to other popular carb-dense snacks, popcorn is very high in fiber. This nutrient aids in digestive regularity, can help lower blood cholesterol levels, and increases satiety after eating. In fact, a 100-calorie portion of air-popped popcorn, about 3 cups, contains 4 grams of fiber. Popcorn is also naturally gluten free, contains about 3 grams of protein per 3 cups popped, and houses other important nutrients, like magnesium and phosphorus. Because popcorn is relatively low in calories, you can eat a larger portion without calories and carb adding up quickly, compared to other starchy snacks, like crackers and chips.
Popcorn is versatile
Now that you know how nutrient-packed popcorn is, let’s talk about all the ways you can enjoy this snack! Popcorn kernels truly have endless possibilities, and your flavor preference can really lead the way to which ingredients you use. While a savory popcorn snack during a movie may sound delicious some days, other times you may want something a little sweeter. Popcorn offers both of these flavor profiles!
Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare popcorn kernels while keeping healthy ingredients in mind:
Heat with olive oil and toss with freshly chopped rosemary, black pepper, and sea salt.
Pop with coconut oil and top with ground cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar or your favorite sugar alternative.
Air-pop and spray with your oil of choice, and toss with grated parmesan and ranch seasoning.
Air-pop and drizzle with dark chocolate that has been melted with coconut oil. You can even top with some sprinkles for an extra fun snack!
This only begins to describe some of the ways you can enjoy popcorn. Your imagination is the limit! And, to keep it extra simple for an easy snack out the door, simply air-pop your kernels and combine with raisins and nuts for a nutrient-packed trail mix.
Watch this simple video on how to make popcorn at home:
We all know what it’s like to have an upset stomach or to experience foods that just don’t sit right. But sometimes, gut health can be more complicated than a short-lived stomach ache. The gut is a complex microbiome that can affect your whole body. The good news is that a lot of your gut health is in your control.
Knowledge is key to making the right gut-conscious decisions, and we’ve got some advice to get you on the right track.
Why’s gut health so important?
First, what’s so important about the gut anyway? The gut is often considered the body’s second brain because it controls so much of how we are feeling.
According to Healthline writers Megan Dix and Erika Klein, imbalances in the gut microbiome can result in fatigue, unusual weight gain or loss, migraines, skin irritation, and so much more. People with gut problems may feel generally unwell, which can be stressful and frustrating.
Conversely, a healthy gut can improve your energy levels, sleep cycles, and general health. A healthy gut is one of many factors that contribute to a healthy and happy lifestyle. So, how do we make it happen?
The best foods for your gut
When thinking about healthy foods for your gut, focus on having a well-rounded diet of whole foods. Here are some of the top foods to add to your diet.
Green vegetables. Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, can work wonders to help your gut because they are high in vitamins and fiber.
Fermented foods. Fermented foods are high in probiotics, healthy bacteria that make your gut function at its best. Popular options include kombucha, kimchi, or classic Greek yogurt.
Fiber is a nutrient found in a wide variety of plant-based foods, from fruits and vegetables to whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. You can even consume fiber through a supplement if you aren’t getting enough from your food and drink choices. Fiber plays many roles in the body and is considered an essential nutrient, meaning you must consume it as your body is not able to produce fiber on its own. Here’s how high fiber foods can benefits your health.
Digestive benefits of fiber
This is likely one of the more familiar fiber benefits. Fiber helps to add bulk to your stool, helping it process through your intestines more efficiently, aiding in digestive regularity. This benefit is largely attributed to insoluble fiber, which is the roughage in food that does not dissolve in liquid. Since it does not dissolve, it aids in the accumulation of stool and quick passage through your digestive tract. This helps to offset constipation, and the complications that could arise form irregular bowel movements. Insoluble fiber is plentiful in food and is especially high in whole grains, like oats, wheat, barley, and quinoa, as well as beans and lentils.
Heart benefits of fiber
The other form of fiber, soluble fiber, possesses its own health benefits, including improving blood cholesterol values. Studies have found soluble fiber can reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol values are too high in the blood, this serves as a risk factor for heart disease. Soluble fiber is found in some of the same foods as insoluble fiber, including oats, beans, and barley. It is frequently consumed through supplemental sources, too. Both forms are fiber are valuable for your health, and both should be consumed on a daily basis.
Fiber helps with satiety
Fiber also has a high satiety value, meaning it helps you feel full following a meal. This may reduce overeating and promote smaller portion sizes, which could result in weight loss over time. Both forms of fiber aid in satiety, which is another reason why you should consume a variety of fiber-containing foods each day. Adult men and women should aim to consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day. It is important to drink fluid regularly throughout to day to aid your body in processing fiber. With a wide variety of benefits, fiber is an important nutrient for your health and should be present at each meal.
Fiber is an important component of any healthy diet! Luckily, finding delicious food with fiber benefits isn’t too hard. Even though there are lots of options out there, it’s essential to make a conscientious choice to eat more of what’s good for you!
On your fiber journey, you’ll run into lots of options, but to make the best decision, you’ll want to know the benefits of each type of fiber. That’s where we come in! Keep reading to learn about the difference between the fibers in your food.
Understanding soluble and insoluble fiber
Soluble and insoluble fiber both have health benefits. You really can’t go wrong, but if you are hoping to reach specific health goals, you’ll want to consider their differences.
Fiber is considered a complex carbohydrate and is found in many plant-based products, like wheat, fruits, and vegetables. As a complex carbohydrate, it won’t raise your blood sugar in the way simple carbohydrates often do.
Soluble fiber can dissolve in water. In your colon, it becomes a gel-like substance that slows down digestion and releases a few calories in the process. It can help lower your blood and cholesterol levels. It’s also been linked to preventing diabetes.
Insoluble fiber does not break down in your stomach. Instead, in your digestive tract, it attracts water which makes stool softer and easier to pass. It can also help with insulin sensitivity and prevent diabetes. Since it doesn’t break down the same way that soluble fiber does, it has no calories.
Benefits of fiber
Most foods that contain fiber contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber, in general, has a lot of additional benefits.
First, it can help support healthy weight management as it contributes to feeling satiated for longer. It also lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers such as colon and breast cancer. Finally, It can assist in balancing blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
With so much to offer, everyone can benefit from adding a bit more fiber to their meals!
Adding fiber to your diet
If you’re looking to add more soluble fiber to your diet, consider some of these options:
Many items, particularly vegetables, are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Having a balanced diet with both types of fiber is sure to keep you healthy and feeling great!
Ready to get cooking?
Now that you know the biggest differences between soluble and insoluble fiber and have some options to choose from, you might be feeling a bit hungry. Check out some of our popular recipes to see how you can get your fiber fix!
How many times have you heard that natural foods are expensive and no better than supermarket products? Is this true? What are natural foods anyway? Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Toadstools and poison ivy are natural! Using the word “natural” everything from soap to ice cream underscores how artificial our world has become; on a label the word means little. Therefore, with natural foods, as with anything else, to get the value for your money, you need to be an informed consumer.
Natural foods are traditional foods
To better understand natural foods, let’s replace the term “natural” with “traditional.” Throughout most of history, people have eaten whole grains, beans, seeds, seasonal fruits and vegetables— natural foods. It is only in this century that food has changed radically. As a species, however, we are biologically the same as we were 1000 years ago and the long term effects that some of these new, overly refined, artificially colored and chemically preserved foods have on our bodies are just being discovered. We do know refined foods are less nutritious than whole foods, even when “enriched.” Health experts agree that we should eat more whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables: traditional foods with a proven track record. No one who values health would recommend eating more junk food.
Win, win, win: less processed, less expensive, more nutritious
Traditional foods are more nutritious mainly because they are less processed. That’s also why they are less expensive. The grains and beans have always been a bargain. They are powerhouses of nutrition, including fiber, trace minerals and vitamins, while being low in fat, low in sodium and cholesterol free. When combined with each other, the various amino acids available in grains and beans compliment one another form complete proteins that rival those of meat or dairy products and at far less cost. Grains and beans are so inexpensive that you can buy them organically grown, as they are commonly available in natural food stores, and still spend very little money. Produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or growth regulators, organically grown foods taste better and measured by their nutritional value, can be less expensive than other foods.
Buy in season for the best value
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also relatively inexpensive, a much better buy than imported, out of season produce. Seasonal produce is also likely to be of higher quality because it’s fresher. Other foods that are often good buys and natural foods stores include bulk nuts, seeds, dried fruits and herbs. Traditional foods such as tofu, soy milk, tempeh, seitan, sea vegetables, nut and seed butters whole grain flours and meals, mechanically pressed oils, misos and tamari do involve processing. Nevertheless they offer good nutritional value because they remain whole foods. These two are readily available and frequently fresher in natural food stores because their turnover of these foods is greater.
Although you pay a price for convenience
A category of foods that is definitely more expensive than similar foods in the supermarkets natural is convenience foods— cookies, candy bars, ready to eat breakfast cereals, chips, sauces, breads, juices, mixes, canned and frozen foods. Though they are certainly not staples, they can come in handy.
When buying convenience foods in a natural food store, read the labels just as you would in a supermarket. Not all foods in a natural foods store are nutritious. Look out for sugar in all its disguises, such as glucose, corn syrup and brown or turbinado sugar. You may want to avoid sugar altogether, but most people can enjoy food sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup and molasses, in moderation. If nutrition facts are not given, note that ingredients are listed in order of quantity. Steer clear of foods whose main ingredients are sweeteners; they represent empty calories.
Whole grain means whole nutrition
For the same reason, look out for white flour, that is, flour those nutrients have been depleted by refining. It may be unbleached, but if you think you are getting whole grain flour when a package says “wheat flour” or “rye flour” you are wrong. The label must read “whole wheat flour” or “whole rye flour” to really be whole grain. “Natural” convenience foods can also be high in fat and sodium, substances we should limit in our diets.
Read labels closely when comparing foods. If you find two similar marketed with different prices, see whether the high price reflects higher quality ingredients, such as organically grown flours, natural flavorings, and non-hydrogenated oils.
Eating healthy on a budget is attainable
When one spends their money to encourage high quality products and sustainable (organic) agriculture, it helps to assure oneself not only of pure, healthy food, but of rich healthy farmland for future generations. The more often we shop this way the more accessible and less expensive health food becomes.
This article was excerpted from the “Arrowhead Mills Cookbook” by Vicki Rae Chelf.
Quinoa has become a more popular grain in recent years, and for good reason. While some may think of it as comparable to rice, it has far more nutritional value. Protein, fiber, and iron are just some of the standout nutrients in quinoa. While all grains, including rice and quinoa, are known for their ease of preparation, versatile flavor, and carb content, you may want to consider adding quinoa to your meal plan more frequently. Here’s why.
Quinoa is a source of fiber
While all grains are dense in carbohydrate, the composition of other nutrients varies quite a bit grain-to-grain. Fiber is one of the nutrients found in quinoa that is commonly lower in other grains. One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 5 grams of fiber, more than what white and brown rice provide. Fiber can aid in digestive regularity, increase satiety, and may even improve blood cholesterol levels. For these reasons, and more, you should aim to eat fiber-dense foods at every meal. Try cooking quinoa in bulk to easily add it to meals throughout the week.
Quinoa is a complete protein
Protein is another nutrient in quinoa not commonly found in other grains. Additionally, quinoa is considered to be a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. This macronutrient aids in many bodily functions, including tissue repair, growth and maintenance, fluid balance, and muscle integrity. While many people commonly associated protein with animal-based products, plant-based sources are valuable, too. In fact, plant-based sources of protein, like quinoa, are especially important for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet as their animal sources of protein are limited. You can find about 8 grams of protein in one cup of cooked quinoa. While this is more than most other grains, you likely still need to pair quinoa with another protein source in order to meet your protein needs at a meal.
Quinoa contains iron
This mineral is also synonymous with animal meat, and while red meat especially contains high amounts of iron, you can find this essential nutrient in quinoa and other plant-based foods, too. Iron aids your red blood cells in carrying oxygen throughout the body. Without enough iron in your diet, red blood cell health and oxygen carrying capacity may be negatively impacted, leading to symptoms like fatigue or an anemia diagnosis. Iron is best absorbed when consumed with a source of vitamin C. To help your body absorb the iron from quinoa, try pairing it with a vitamin C-rich food, like tomato, bell peppers, or citrus fruit.
The boldly printed label is clearly found on packaging in any aisle while strolling throughout the supermarket. What is less clear, is what that label means — or why that label is there in the first place. Let’s take a unboxing look at what exactly is a GMO.
Where are GMOs found?
It’s the mid 1990’s, your mood ring is on your finger, one strap is clipped on your overalls and your (insert preference here) favorite boy band is on the radio… all the while you are blissfully unaware that the very first genetically engineered crops have been approved for human consumption. GMOs, also known as Genetically Modified Organisms, refer to an animal, plant or microbe whose DNA has been altered by genetic engineering. Of all the aisles in the grocery store, the produce section is where you will most likely find these GMOs. The most common largely produced GMO products in the food industry are corn, soybeans, and sugar beets. These three crops monopolize 90% of the market.
Why do GMOs exist?
The idea sounds utopian enough: rows and rows of crops untouched by disease and pests, picture perfect quality and ready for the picking. To a farmer this sounds as delicious as cash in hand. To the consumer… you might like to remember there are two sides to every coin. A farmer must battle against not only things like weather, but also bugs and disease. With genetic engineering, it is possible to alter a plant so it produces its own insecticidal toxin. While this does reduce the need for a topical application of pesticidal spray, you might find yourself asking, “what am I eating then?”. Trust when we say, you aren’t alone in this query.
Assumption would suggest that ingesting GMO insecticidal toxins would be enough risk to take on—like an infomercial once said “…but wait there’s more.” Most GMO crops are resistant to herbicides like the controversial active ingredient glyphosate carried in the product Roundup. This only means that farmers are able to use this herbicide, that is in litigation with speculative correlation to various diseases, without fear of harming the crops themselves. To quote a famous movie, “…life finds a way”, and in this case as with most, that has proven true. The greater use of this herbicide has produce new strains of chemically resistant plants.
Genetically modified crops are cheaper to grow, but at what cost?
For farmers, GMOs are, far to often the case, considered a no-brainer choice. GMO plants are easier in care and cost much less to grow. Ultimately making a cheaper product on the consumer end. But, momma always said there is a difference between cheaper and less expensive — and at what cost? With so much speculation and concern surrounding the use of GMOs in the farming and food industry from their possible environmental ramifications, to consumption safety along with both illnesses and food borne allergies; there is no wonder why so many are opting out.
GMOs must be labeled on food products
As of January 2022, the USDA will require food manufacturers to label foods containing GMO ingredients. An easy swap is simply selecting products listed as non-GMO or organic, as the US law prohibits the use of GMOs in organic farming.
Arrowhead Mills products are made without GMOs
Fortunately, at Arrowhead Mills we believe in sourcing ingredients in their purest form. This is why we offer high quality organic foods that do not use genetically modified ingredients. We are happy to take the guess work out of what’s good for you!
You may have heard of this ancient grain over the years, but chances are you haven’t incorporated it into your meal rotation. If this is the case for you, you have been missing out on this nutrient-packed and versatile grain. Sure, rice and quinoa deserve a spot in your meal rotation, too, but it’s time you add amaranth into the mix. Read on to learn more about why amaranth is a nutritional powerhouse and how you can incorporate this grain into more of your meals, snacks, and even baking.
Amaranth is nutrient packed
Amaranth is a naturally gluten-free grain, making it a great carbohydrate option for those with gluten sensitivities and allergies. Two of the nutrients that stand out in amaranth are fiber and protein. While all grains are a dense source of carbohydrate, fiber and protein content vary greatly. Both are these nutrients are known for increasing satiety. While fiber aids in digestive regularity and can improve blood cholesterol, protein is important for muscle recovery, growth, and maintenance. Additionally, amaranth contains a variety of minerals, like iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals are all essential to many different systems in the body.
How to use amaranth
One of the great features of amaranth is its versatility. You can cook it in boiling water, like any other grain, and enjoy it as a side dish to a savory meal. Or you can use it as an alternative to oatmeal and top with your favorite fruit and nuts. Also consider adding cooked amaranth as a salad topping or into your favorite soup. Ground amaranth can also be used as a gluten free flour option in your favorite baked goods. Enjoying amaranth cereal for breakfast is an easy way to reap the nutritional benefits of this grain. With a nutty, earthy flavor, amaranth flour is best when used as part of a gluten free flour mix in your next batch of cookies, pancakes, bread, and more.
With a variety of ways to enjoy, sweet and savory, amaranth deserve a spot in your pantry. While the versatility is great, amaranth is also packed with essential nutrients not commonly found in some other grains, and can add valuable protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your next meal.
It doesn’t really matter where or how you grew up, in one way or another grains made their way onto your plate in some form. However, what really is a grain? Aren’t most flours from a grain? You might be surprised to find out that many items you have come to consider grains are not at all so.
A grain is an edible seed of grass. These grass seed grains include: barley, corn, kamut, oats, spelt and wheat. They are grown, harvested, dried and stored where they await their turn to be sold in bulk or ground into flour for a multitude of culinary uses.
Grains can also not be grains
Alternatively, there is an additional class of what is referred to as “pseudo-grains”. These can be consumed in a like manner to grains but come from a different non-botanical category. As they are not grasses these “grains” do not quite fit into the same category. Though you might have always considered things like: amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds and quinoa a grain — we are happy to serve you up with a bowl full of insight to the contrary.
More food for thought and lesser known knowledge is that “pseudo-grains” are in fact gluten free, which makes for another helpful distinguishing trait. Now this does not mean that those in the grain category cannot be eaten by those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, but it is handy to know that there is a category better suited to an alternative diet.
This gorgeous plant with edible leaves and bright red flower is in fact a pseudo-grain. There are several varieties of this plant, but all would show you that it is not a grass grain and is even sometimes considered a weed. Amaranth is often used as a substitute or alternative to quinoa. As the perfect breakfast buddy, amaranth is delightfully used in porridge.
As this grain has held a lengthy history as a food staple for the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations, we like to refer to the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Amaranth is rich in fiber and protein micronutrients, and just one serving exceeds your daily nutrient needs of manganese (which is important for brain function). These health benefits just might be part of the reason that is still largely in use today.
Most commonly noted for its use in beer, barley is a crop related to wheat. Lower in calories and high in fiber and packed with nutrients, this grain has won itself a prized place on the pantry shelf as a staple in most homes. This gluten containing grain is noted for its bran content. Loaded with essential minerals such as copper, manganese, tryptophan and selenium, this grain will not only provide you with energy, but allows you to feel full longer, while also calming your nervous system. That’s a lot of big work for such a little grain!
Barley is often found in soups but can be added to your diet in many other ways. Like amaranth, its creamy texture allows it to be a perfect porridge pairing. What a nutrient filled way to start your day!
Hands down, rice is the most commonly consumed grain in the world. Whether you had it white, brown, pink or black, we are positive this grain has been on your plate once or twice. Unlike white rice, brown rice is its whole grain counterpart. Brown rice contains its nutrient dense fiber-filled hull, making it chewier and nuttier in flavor in contrast to white rice.
Used often as a side or a main dish, brown rice can also be ground down into flour. The flour still contains its essential minerals such as: calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. With B rich vitamins leading the way like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, there’s almost little need to mention the added serving of vitamin E and K. If white rice has been your staple, then maybe these benefits are worth making the switch.
Who doesn’t love corn? This golden delicious sweet summer grain (that’s right, it’s a grass grain!) is a summer staple. Buttered, battered, creamed or popped you’ve probably had this grain more regularly than any other. Though, not as nutrient dense as some of the other grains, we promise this ear is worth the shuck!
This gluten free grain is loaded with fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Though corn is sweet, it is not a high glycemic food. Popcorn, to some surprise, is richer in minerals whereas sweet corn is higher in vitamins. There are many delicious ways to top your popcorn, but a heap of health knowledge is how we like to serve it up. This healthy snack contains: copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc making it something worth popping over. It’s worth mentioning that corn, or rather popcorn, is one of the few whole grains that is consumed as a snack.
Pronounced “kuh-moot,” this ancient grain is also referred to as Khorasan wheat. It gained its more commonly used name after two Montana-based farmers trademarked it in celebration of its first true success in American cultivation. Kamut is not only a whole grain, but an ancient one dating back to its findings in an Egyptian pyramid. The nutty, buttery and rich flavor make them perfect as a breakfast treat.
This grass-growing grain is similar looking but twice the size of modern wheat kernels. Along with their superior size, they weigh in with better healthy fats, minerals, proteins and vitamins. Where commercialized wheat lacks, this ancient whole grain wins. Kamut shouldn’t just be limited to breakfast bowls and cereals. This grain can find itself as a delightful salad topping, porridge, bread flour, pancake mix, pasta sauce additive and a chewy addition to soups and stews.
Millet is a whole grain with a wide diversity of consumers, from both humans to livestock. This grass seed is no stranger to diversity as it is grown all over the world. Growing fast and in cold, harsh and dry environments, this grain has proven to be a contender for more than just breakfast.
Millet is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. It is packed with minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium and phosphorus. Topping that with a host of vitamins like niacin, Riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K this grain offers a heaping helping of nutrients. Not only does millet make a fabulous addition to the breakfast table, but it is also a great substitution for rice.
Oats are most definitely the more common knowledge whole grain. High in fiber this grain will oat-ally keep you feeling fuller longer. Contradictory to popular thought, oats are naturally gluten free. Although there is a chance they may come into contact with gluten-containing grains in the mill. Oats are mixed with fruits, made into milk, ground into flour and even find themselves in a popular bread shaped meat dish. Oat “groats” are the whole grain version of oats. Oats have earned their place in most American kitchens for its benefits in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The antioxidant avenatheramides, only found in oats, reduces inflammation in the arteries as well as regulates blood pressure. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder this grain makes the list.
Quinoa… such a cute little pseudo-grain with such a difficult name to say. Pronounced “keen-wah,” this grain took the health world by storm, seemingly popping up overnight. This rice replacement “grain” has found itself making its way into many a home. Noted for its high amounts of protein, quinoa can be consumed as a whole or ground down to be used as a flour. Naturally gluten free and vitamin rich with a profile of folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamin B12, vitamins A and E, it’s no wonder that this grain is all the rage.
Rye is a nutrient packed and flavor filled grain that is more commonly associated with bread. This grain provides a healthy dose rich in copper, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus and selenium. Cultivated in the northern and central parts of Europe and Russia, rye is extremely hardy and grows in sandy soils with low fertility. A close relative of both barley and wheat, rye is also used for bread, beer, whiskey, vodka and animal fodder. Rye helps in reducing cholesterol and protects against both colon and breast cancer. A lesser known fun fact lesser known about rye, both its flour and bread help to lower the chances of gallstones by eliminating bile acids. Any way you slice it, rye is a whole grain worth biting into.
What is there to say about wheat? Second in common popularity to rice, this cereal grass grain is most definitely a true grain. With its origins in Southwestern Asia, wheat is now grown vastly in several countries. The primary uses for wheat are in baking products like bread, cakes, pasta, pancakes and muffins. Choose unrefined or whole wheat to maintain its nutrient contents. Consuming whole wheat is associated with decreased risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This is why this whole grain has won over many health conscious hearts. Whole wheat also provides a variety of B vitamins and a host of minerals to keep it a consistent contender for the ultimate whole grain title.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, there are several naturally gluten-free whole grains that offer many health benefits and fun flavors! Here are the top eight Arrowhead Mills gluten-free grains you will want to add to your diet.
Amaranth is a nutritious ancient grain you should add to your whole grain line-up. It is rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, and a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Quinoa is a pseudocereal that is rich in nutrients such as folate, magnesium, zinc, and iron. It is also high in fiber and is an excellent source of protein which both play an important role in helping you feel full and satisfied.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are one of the least processed oat varieties. They contain slightly more fiber than other oat varieties. Steel cut oats in particular are rich in resistant starch which digests and absorbs more slowly than other carbs, hence keeping blood sugar levels more stable.
Popcorn is a delicious snack, and when prepared the correct way, it can be great for you as well. It is low in calories and a great source of fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps your digestive tract in check.
Cornmeal is made by grinding corn kernels into a coarse powder and can be used to create polenta, grits, tortillas, and other baked goods. It is particularly rich in iron and phosphorus.
Buckwheat is a nutty pseudocereal that has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that is involved in many important metabolic functions in the body.
Puffed Brown Rice
Brown rice is the whole rice kernel and higher in fiber and minerals than white rice. Brown rice is also rich in manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Puffed brown rice makes a great alternative to low-fiber, high-sugar cereals.
Millet is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients and easy to prepare. A staple in many diets around the world, millet is high in protein and fiber, and is particularly known for its rich magnesium content.
Mix up your gluten-free grain line-up with all of these grains, and reap the amazing health benefits.
To understand why organic is a better choice, we must turn back the clock and understand the context of modern food production.
Industrial revolution meets the food industry
It was the industrial revolution, a manufacturing mega overhaul, an era that charted a course of progress throughout history. No longer were horses, canals, and rivers the main mode of transportation, the mechanized factory system had begun. The invention of steam meant goods could not only travel farther but we could transport more faster. Industry meant factories, warehouses, and streamlined innovation.
The population boomed and so did consumerism. Goods that were once only obtainable by select classes of society could now be accessed by many. It truly was a revolution. Unfortunately, with every Wiley Coyote brainiac idea is an anvil awaiting its untimely arrival. What began as era of innovation, pride and opportunity broke down. Making something faster inevitably meant making something cheaper.
You see, when farmers left their fields to join the factories and became part of industrialized manufacturing warehouses something changed. No longer was there a tender handed connection that met farmer and consumer. Those same generational fields handed down through time were now owned and ran by industry titans. The mystical shrouded layers of the curtain separating consumer and product laid untouched for a few generations, that is until another modulation pulled it back.
The technological revolution has come along way and evolved many-a-time over. Sure, just as the industrial revolution had its peaks and valleys, so did tech. If the first factories and warehouse focus was consumption of goods, then it is easy to state that this revolution has served up the unquenchable quest for the consumption of knowledge.
We want to know where our food comes from
Each of these radical periods of time brought together classes in addition to nurturing diversity. This age of thread based information had us following a strand to a forgotten question. Where does our food come from? The microscope of curiosity on the food industry had us witness a long awaited overhaul. No longer were we victims to fancy packaging and commercially targeted ads. People had questions and they wanted answers.
The Nutrition Facts Label became mandated in 1990 with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. This allowed the consumer the access to the nutritional breakdown of a product. This limited label has seen only minute changes since its implementation in 1994 with trans-unsaturated fatty acid (trans fat) added to it in the early 2000’s.
The first shift in the wave of change hit. Suddenly products flooded the market with labels advertising “no trans fats”. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, “results suggest that mandatory disclosure of ingredients that have the potential to cause harm to human health can lead to food manufacturers to reformulate their products to make them healthier.”
Organic in a modern era
As social media made its boom, so again did the food industry alter. New information was available as fast as it could be consumed. It seemed as much as we desired to connect with people and friends long forgotten, we also were connecting to former methods of thought. The 1970s brought forward environmental awareness and the overdue call for an organic industry.
This, as with most beginnings, was met with struggle, paperwork and a whole lot of hurdles. Certification would need to be defined, production would need to be monitored and standards would need to be set. After years and decades of work a final format was achieved and implemented in late 2002. It would be a while until this label “organic” would spike another revolution.
As with most things, less is arguably more. The food industry was no exception to this rule. As trendy restaurants that took moms old recipes and made them into chic exquisite destination restaurants deconstructing them into their simplest form, so too did our palates and bodies crave this simplicity. We not only wanted to know how our food was made, but how it was grown. The organic revolution had begun.
Those of us old enough to remember commercials can picture the scene clearly. It’s a beautiful weekend morning, the children are gathered around the table. In walks mom smiling, she opens the cupboard to reveal (insert angelic choir here) the whole grain cereal. The children rejoice! They are happy because it’s Saturday AND their beloved cereal is delicious and mom is happy too. But why? Because mom knows that Whole Grain is exactly what her growing children need!
The knowledge is known, “mom” made that pretty clear, whole grains are good for you. But do you know why? Lucky for you and so many others we at Arrowhead Mills once asked that same question and found out some awesome information that we can assure you even “mom” didn’t know.
What is a Whole Grain?
Whole Grain is used to refer to the entire seed comprised of three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the fiber filled outer skin of the seed that contains antioxidants and B vitamins. The germ refers to germination, this is the part of the seed that sprouts into a plant. This part of the seed is full of protein, minerals, unsaturated fats as well as B vitamins. Lastly, is the endosperm which is mostly made up of carbohydrates and protein. If the seed were to in fact sprout, this would provide the initial nutrients and fuel needed to do so.
Why Whole Grains?
While whole grains are loaded with beneficial fibers, energy rich carbohydrates, minerals, b vitamins, selenium, magnesium, Vitamin E and iron to name a few, their counterparts, commercialized grains, not only are refined, but are also missing many of these beneficial nutrients. The process of commercialization usually involves removing either the hull or germ, in some cases both. In so doing this process does leave behind some of the proteins and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, the results are a full feeling without truly feeding the body as a whole… enter in whole grain for the win!
Studies confirm the long term switch to whole grains offer real lasting health benefits. We are not referring to anything trivial either, we are talking about: reducing rates of chronic disease, weight management, slowing the progression of heart disease, lowering cardiovascular risk, lowered blood pressure, and decreased overall inflammation. With so many health benefits at stake, it’s hard to find a reason not to make the switch.
With many whole grains offering these amazing benefits and the technological age booming at our fingers offering tricks, tips and recipes galore— good health is quite literally in your hands! Arrowhead Mills is happy to offer many whole grains like Quinoa, Bulgur, Rye, Millet, Amaranth and Barley just to name a few. Check out our website for recipes including many of these whole grains for your daily use. The only thing left really is … *adds to cart*
If you aren’t incorporating lentils into your weekly meal plan, it’s time to rethink your menu. While lentils are often synonymous with plant-based diets, they are a versatile and nutrient-packed ingredient that is appropriate for kids, adults, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. Protein, fiber, iron, and carbohydrates are just some of the nutrients found in lentils. So, when asked if lentils are good for you, the answer is, absolutely YES!
Lentils are a source of protein and iron
Lentils are often a staple in vegetarians and vegan diets because they are a concentrated source of protein and iron. These two nutrients are often under consumed by those following plant-based diets. However, these nutrients are also valuable for those who eat animal-based foods. Protein serves many functions in the body, including aiding in muscle repair and growth, and fluid balance. Iron is essential for blood health and oxygen delivery throughout the body.
Lentils are also a great source of fiber, a nutrient essential for healthy digestion that also increases satiety and may help lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber is generally under consumed in the Western diet. Incorporating a half cup serving of lentils can get you as many as 8 grams of fiber!
Lentils contain nutritious complex carbohydrates
Related to fiber, lentils also contain high-quality carbohydrates. This nutrient is essential to the functioning of your brain and nervous system. It is also the primary form of energy your body uses during higher intensity exercise. With many processed, low-quality carb sources found in the typical American diet, lentils are actually one of the best source of carbohydrate because of their fiber content and minimal processing.
Lentils are easy to cook
In addition to being nutrient-rich, lentils are also incredibly versatile and easy to prepare. Lentils cook easily in boiled water, often in half the time it takes to cook beans and grains, like rice. They can be enjoyed with a wide array of seasonings and sauces to meet your preferences. Lentils are also a great food to cook in bulk and enjoy in a wide variety of dishes throughout the week. Use cooked lentils as a protein source in a salad or your favorite vegetable soup, or enjoy them as a side dish to accompany your next barbecue.
When it comes to bread, pasta, crackers, and really anything made with flour, whole grain becomes an important term to understand. You may have even seen this phrase on the front of food packages and wondered how it is different from what you usually buy. Here is the low down on whole grain, and why you should be choosing it more often than not.
Whole grains are more common than you think
You are likely already eating a couple servings of whole grains every day! This category includes common foods like corn, oats, wheat, quinoa, and rice, amongst others. Whole grains are the seed of a plant. They are made up of three edible components: a bran, germ, and endosperm. The edible part is surrounded by an inedible husk that protects the seed. Before whole grains can be turned into edible products, the husk is removed while the edible components are kept intact. This is what makes these foods whole grains.
When these whole grains are refined, like you might see in white flour, the bran and germ are removed. The husk is also removed, leaving only the endosperm. Without the presence of the bran and germ, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals are lost from the seed. This makes it a much less nutrient-dense product than the minimally processed whole grain.
Whole grains contain more natural nutrients than refined grains
While whole grains also undergo some processing to remove the husk, minimal refining occurs, keeping more valuable nutrients intact. This is why whole grains are encouraged as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet. They should be consumed in higher amounts than refined grain products. Even though refined products often have some nutrients added back after being processed, it is not always in the same amounts as what was lost. The body may not be able to absorb these nutrients as well as those naturally occurring in the food.
Next time you are shopping for flour, cereal, bread, and other grain-based items, choose those made with whole grains. You can easily identify this by looking for products with the Whole Grain Stamp and browse ingredient lists looking for “whole”. For example, whole wheat, whole grain, and whole wheat oats are some ways you may see them listed.
Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is important to avoiding long-term health issues, managing weight, and feeling good overall. There are countless lifestyle and diet choices that can help keep blood sugar in check and eating certain whole grains is one of them.
However, before you start eating all the whole grains, keep this in mind – carbs do raise blood sugar, especially when eaten alone. That is why I recommend eating fiber-rich grains and always pairing them with protein and healthy fat. The combination of fiber, protein, and fat slows down the digestion and absorption of carbs and keeps blood sugar levels more stable.
Here are six grains that not only are rich in fiber, but also contain nutrients that help balance blood sugar.
Quinoa is a superfood that is loaded with protein and magnesium making it an ideal preventative for diabetes. Protein slows the absorption of glucose into your cells, preventing blood sugar spikes after meals and stabilizing your blood sugar. Meanwhile, the magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces sugar cravings.
Amaranth is an ancient grain that is naturally gluten-free and rich in protein and fiber which help to slow the spike of blood sugar.
In research buckwheat has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels because it’s so rich in magnesium, fiber, and D-chiro-inositol. D-chiro-inositol is a variant of the B vitamin inositol that promotes healthy glucose levels.
Kamut contains many of the properties of whole wheat, but it’s much less allergenic. In research, when kamut was used instead of modern wheat, there was a decrease in fat mass and insulin and an increase in DHA.
Brown rice is the whole rice kernel and high in fiber and minerals like magnesium, both of which help balance blood sugar. To make brown rice even more blood sugar friendly, cook it ahead of time and refrigerate. Reheat when you are ready to eat. This process turns the rice into a resistant starch which digests and absorbs more slowly than other carbs.
Millet is an ancient grain that is packed with protein and fiber which keep blood sugar steady, lower cholesterol, and help with weight management.
If you’re looking for a delicious gluten-free grain, look no further than Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat. Buckwheat is a wonderful substitute for many grains, and provides a rich, nutty flavor while packing a nutritious punch.
Despite what its name suggests, buckwheat is not a cereal or a wheat product. It is a fruit seed that comes from the buckwheat plant, however it is used like a grain because it is rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Here are some of the amazing health benefits of buckwheat.
Blood Sugar Control
In research, there is evidence that buckwheat can help lower blood sugar levels because it’s so rich in magnesium, fiber, and D-chiro-inositol. D-chiro-inositol is a variant of the B vitamin inositol that promotes healthy glucose levels.
Studies on buckwheat suggest that an increased intake of buckwheat could lower risk factors of cardiovascular disease including glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
The main antioxidant polyphenol in buckwheat is rutin, which may lower your risk of cancer and improve inflammation and blood pressure.
Rich in Protein
Buckwheat is a great source of plant-based protein with 3g of protein per ½-cup serving. Adequate protein helps with weight management, blood sugar balance, and so much more.
Buckwheat is rich in fiber, which can aid digestion and prevent constipation. Fiber helps improve digestive function by allowing you to have regular bowel movements.
Since buckwheat is a pseudocereal, it is naturally gluten-free and makes a great option for those with celiac or those who follow a gluten-free diet.
Aids in Weight Loss
Consuming enough fiber is essential for successful weight loss. Buckwheat is rich in fiber, especially insoluble fiber, which leads to greater satiety with fewer calories.
Supports a Healthy Blood Pressure
Eating buckwheat is associated with lower blood pressure levels and serum cholesterol levels. The flavonoids rutin and quercetin help maintain healthy blood flow, an important part in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Iron-Rich Food Source
Buckwheat is a great source of Iron, which is required to carry oxygen and other nutrients to all parts of the body.
Since buckwheat’s is a rich source of magnesium and iron, it can help improve energy levels.
Flaxseed has been around for centuries. Furthermore–scientifically; there’s evidence it can help to lower your blood pressure, risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease… the list goes on! Let’s dive into all the top reasons why you should add this plant-based superfood into your daily diet.
Reason 1: Flaxseed is a good source of fiber
Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Each of these are incredibly important for gut health and maintaining a healthy immune system. The soluble fiber draws water into your gut and helps to soften your stools & support regular bowel movements while the insoluble fiber adds bulk! It’s pretty awesome that flaxseed contains both types of fiber– making it perfect to supplement with daily. Kill two birds with one stone.
Reason 2: Flaxseeds are a source of antioxidants
Additionally, flaxseeds contain a multitude of cancer-fighting nutrients such as omega-3s, protein, fiber and B vitamins. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to eat because they help to fight inflammation. They promote brain & eye health and there is evidence they help to fight depression and anxiety. Talk about an all-in-one superfood!
Reason 3: Flaxseeds help our gut health
Flaxseed is commonly used for optimizing digestion, gut health, and constipation due to its high fiber content. It can also help your metabolic health and aid in weight loss. Make sure to increase your water intake–if you don’t drink enough water, your body won’t be able to digest the excess fiber which can result in constipation and stomach cramps.
With all their health benefits, you’d be crazy not to add flaxseeds into your daily diet! Adding four tablespoons of flaxseed has been shown to aid in digestion, weight loss and all of the other great benefits we’ve just discussed… So what are you waiting for?
Here are 3 ways to add flaxseed into foods you already eat!
Smoothies: blend them into your morning smoothies to break them down so they’re digestible. Pair with some blueberries for even more health benefits!
Yogurt & Oatmeal: adding seeds to plain Greek yogurt can help you feel full for hours. It can be a staple weight-loss snack in your household. Oatmeal also contains complex carbohydrates. Paired with something as fibrous as flaxseed, this will also ensure satiety for a good part of your day!
Bread: we love a good loaf, but especially if there’s some healthy seeds like flaxseed or sunflower seeds. In our modern world, carbohydrates are deemed a “bad food”, but this is simply not true. The carbs you want to add to your protein-dense meals are what are called complex carbohydrates. They are healthy whole grains that take longer to break down, making it less likely to spike your blood sugar.
Oat flour is gaining in popularity due to its cholesterol lowering and anti-diabetic effects. Oat flour and oatmeal are no different in nutritional value because they are made up of the same initial ingredient. That means oat flour contains the germ, bran, and endosperm which makes it rich in whole grains.
Because of their powerful nutritious profile, it’s recommended to consume a serving of oats daily. To be honest, I don’t feel like having oatmeal every day for breakfast, so oat flour provides another way to eat oats to support health.
Health Benefits of Oats
1. Supports Healthy Weight:
The recommended diet for weight loss is rich in dietary fiber. Oat flour is rich in fiber which is an incredible carbohydrate because it increases metabolism, triggers your CCK hormone that tells your brain you’re full, absorbs fat, and keeps bowels regular. Most Amercians don’t eat enough fiber, with the average only being at 10-15g per day while the USDA’s recommended daily amount for adults up to age 50 is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Adding oat flour into your recipes can help you to meet your recommended daily fiber intake, which in turn helps with weight loss by preventing overeating.
2. Cholesterol Lowering
High cholesterol is a primary risk factor in heart disease, which is the number one cause of deaths in the United States. Oatmeal has been highlighted for its ability to lower cholesterol levels for years, but how does this happen? Oatmeal has Beta-Glucans which are a form of soluble fiber that help prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from foods.There are two forms of b-glucans, insoluble and soluble, which are able to interact with biliary salts in the bowel and this results in reduced cholesterol levels.
3. Can Help Control Blood Sugar
Research has found that consuming 100g of oats (½ cup) per day significantly improved hyperglycemia and reduced weight in those with type 2 diabetes.
4. Heart Health
Due to oatmeal’s powerful support of healthy cholesterol levels, it also reduces heart disease!
The FDA allows products containing at least 750mg of beta-glucans (those fibers that help to support lipid levels) to be labeled as heart healthy. For best results buy oat flour that is made from organic rolled oats like Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Flour.
5. Nourishes Your Gut
Not only does the fiber in oats help with weight management, cholesterol, heart health, and blood sugar control, but it also nourishes your gut! Oats are a prebiotic that help to feed probiotics. Think of prebiotics as the fuel for your probiotics! They work together to support a healthy colony of bacteria. Having a healthy gut reduces the risk of excess inflammation, digestive disorders, and disease. The absolute best oats for your gut are Arrowhead Mills Organic Steel Cut Oats.
Millet doesn’t refer to a single type of grain, rather it refers to a small group of seeded grasses. It was originally domesticated in Northern China in 6000 BC. In the United States, it is most commonly used to feed pets, livestock, and birds but for other regions like Asia and Africa, millet is a daily food staple. A major perk of millet is that it has a low carbon footprint since it can withstand high temperatures without much water. There are four different types of millet grown in the United States, foxtail, pearl, proso, and Japanese Barnyard. However, proso is the only type available for human consumption.
Are there any risks?
One of the risks of millet is that it contains goitrogens. These are naturally occurring substances that can interact with the thyroid gland. Some other goitrogenic foods include brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, radishes, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. However, just because millet contains goitrogens doesn’t mean you should avoid consuming it.
One studyshowed that the chances of goiter were higher in those who had 75% of their calories coming from millet when compared with those who had 37% of their calories coming from millet. If you suffer digestive issues or hypothyroidism, check with your Dietitian to see if it’s appropriate to include millet in your diet. Moderation is key to supporting a healthy thyroid, and lack of iodine still remains the main cause of thyroid dysfunction.
Health Benefits of Millet
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Millet contains phytochemicals like phenolic acids which are rich in antioxidants. They ward off damage to cells from free-radical oxidation reactions.
2. May Help Control Blood Sugar
Millet is a low glycemic index food meaning it raises your blood sugar slowly and gradually instead of spiking it. It’s rich in fiber and protein which work together to slow the absorption of glucose into the cells.
3. May Help With Weight Loss:
One studyshowed that when Millet is consumed for as little as 21 days up to 4 months there was a 7% reduction in BMI. This could be due to fiber and protein working together to help you feel more satiated during meals. The blood sugar-balancing effects of millet can also help you to feel satisfied for longer periods between meals, preventing excess snacking.
4. Lowers Triglyceride Levels and Increases HDL
Results from 19 studies showed that Millet helped to reduce levels of triglycerides, LDL, and VLDL by 9%. Four studies showed that millet helped to bring triglyceride levels down to <200 and <150mg/dl. There was also a 6% increase in HDL.
5. Supports a Gluten Free Diet
Millet is a nutritious grain that can support those who feel limited by a gluten-free diet. Processed gluten-free breads are often carbohydrate-dense and contain very little nutrition. Ancient grains like millet are a great way to add nutrient-dense carbohydrates to your diet that will support your health.