Six great grains for boosting heart health


grain banana oat breakfast cookies

Which bread is better for your heart – whole grain or multi-grain?  If you correctly answered ‘whole grain’, you already know that the term ‘multi-grain’ just means that this product contains a variety of different kinds of flours that still may be heavily bleached and processed.

Cleveland Clinic, widely considered to be the top heart institute in North America, has some timely tips on how to introduce the six best heart-healthy whole grains into your daily menu, featured this month in Heart Healthy Living magazine.

  • #1 – Barleya delicious nutty taste and wonderful chewy texture along with high levels of soluble fibre that lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • #2 – Brown Rice – sometimes an acquired taste if you’re used to eating that Minute Rice cardboard, but it’s loaded with Vitamin B1 and B6, fibre, zinc and niacin
  • #3 – Bulgur – sprinkle this healthy whole grain on salads for a boost of Vitamin B3 (niacin) that raises HDL (good) cholesterol
  • #4 – Flaxseed – terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron and fibre when you add this to cereal or muffins; grind it first in your coffee grinder to increase benefits
  • #5 – Oats – please, no instant oatmeal! You might as well have a chocolate bar for breakfast. Rolled oats (slow-cooking or steel cut) can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels because they’re such a good source of soluble fibre. My Seattle friend Tony’s best tip: in the evening, add 1/3 c. slow-cooking or steel cut oats to one cup of water per person in a pot; bring to a boil and then immediately remove it from the stove, cover the pot and let it sit overnight.  Next morning, it’s ready to heat and enjoy – perfect every time.  Quicker, easier and better for you than the highly-processed packaged stuff.
  • #6 – Wheat germ – adds a crispy crunch to baked goods and casseroles

I’d also add quinoa (keen- wah) to this Cleveland Clinic list. It’s an ancient whole grain (but new to me!) that is my new favourite healthy ingredient for a pasta salad without the pasta.

And read on for a delicious whole grain way to start the day –  Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies


Preheat oven to 350.  Oil baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.

Combine in large bowl:

  • 1  large banana, mashed (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2  cup chunky natural peanut butter (unsalted and unsweetened)
  • 1/2  cup honey
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • In small bowl, combine:

    • 1  cup slow-cooking rolled oats
    • 1/2  cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/4  cup nonfat dry milk powder
    • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda

    Stir into banana mixture, and then add 1  cup dried cranberries, raisins, unsalted almonds.

    Use a 1/4 c. measure, drop mounds of dough 3″ apart on prepared baking sheets. With a thin spatula dipped in water, flatten and spread each mound to about 3″ round and 1/2″ thick.  Cookies will spread a bit while baking.

    Bake, one sheet at a time, for 14 to 16 minutes or until browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months; thaw before serving.

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