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Whole Grains

Popcorn is a whole grain food. True or False?

Whole grains get two thumbs up from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) who recently announced new guidelines for healthier lifestyles. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 provides information and advice for choosing a nutritious diet. Among its recommendations is to make the most of each calorie you consume, choosing “good-for-you” foods, like whole grains.

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel -- the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but is also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Because whole grains keep their dietary fiber they play a key role in keeping bodies healthy.

Studies have shown that whole grains may help reduce the risk of developing many major diseases including heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. Whole grains are low glycemic carbohydrates which means lower blood sugar and less insulin production. Whole grains are a source of fiber, which grabs onto toxins as it makes its way through the digestive system. And fiber slows digestion making you feel fuller longer.

Today’s new health guidelines recommend at least half your daily intake of grains should come from whole grains; that is, try to eat at least three servings of whole-grain products each day. If hunger strikes and mealtime is hours away, grab a whole grain snack, like popcorn, to stop those pangs while supplying your body with needed nutrients.

*It’s true! Popcorn is a whole grain food which makes it a high-quality carbohydrate source that is not only low in calories, but a good source of fiber. This means it takes longer to chew and makes you feel full longer. Compared to many snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn provides only 30 calories per cup. When oil-popped, it contains only 55 calories. Even drizzled lightly with butter, it's only 90 to 120 calories per cup. Three cups of popcorn counts as 1 ounce equivalent whole grains.