By Nicci Micco, M.S., editor-at-large for EatingWell Magazine
Lately, I've been noticing fine lines on my face and a growth patch of gray near my right temple. So when one of my colleagues suggested we write about "age-defying carbs," I said, "Sign me up!" I'd read the recent Archives of Internal Medicine study to which my co-worker was referring and knew it didn't provide evidence that I could save the time and money I spend to get my hair highlighted by eating whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, barley and the like. (Go ahead: call me vain! Better yet, don't; instead, click here to find out which foods can help your skin look great!)
What the study did show was that eating more whole grains (and fewer refined ones) might help you to live longer. Why? Scientists suspect that the fiber in grains reduces your risk of dying from cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases. (Related link: 5 Ways to Get More Fiber.) Adding years to your life is even better than smoothing out your face and warding off new grays, no? (See? I'm not that vain.)
Plus, I love whole grains: aside from delivering more nutrients, including fiber, they're nuttier and chewier than refined grains. But if you're among the folks who still aren't sold (studies show that many people aren't getting even one full serving of whole grains a day), I have some easy ideas to help you up your intake:
Eat oatmeal for breakfast. The fiber in oats is the soluble kind that is associated with heart health and-bonus!-will help you feel fuller for longer.
Cook a big pot of quinoa (or barley) to use for lunches all week. Use it as a base for whatever vegetables and herbs you have on hand (or that you're craving that day); mix in a little olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle on slivered almonds and a couple teaspoons of dried cranberries, mmm...
Recipes to Try: Warm Quinoa Salad with Edamame & Tarragon and 6 More Quinoa Recipes
Have whole-grain pasta dishes for dinner. You'll get about 6 grams of fiber per serving. My 3-year-old is obsessed with pasta, so we have it often-usually supplemented with veggies, beans and sometimes a lean source of protein, like chicken.
- Snack on popcorn. It's a whole grain. Seriously!
What's your favorite way to get your whole grains?
By Nicci Micco
Nicci Micco is editor-at-large for EatingWell and co-author of EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management.
More from EatingWell: