One More Reason to Make the Whole Grain Switch

November 19, 2010 in Blog Recipes, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean, Nutrition, Whole Grains by Joyce Bunderson

If you are already converted or are in the process of converting your grain consumption to whole grains instead of refined white flour products, you probably don’t need one more reason to make the change.  But if you’re still sitting on the fence, there’s some great new evidence.

A study published in the August 4, 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports yet another reason to eat whole grain foods – blood pressure. The research group in Scotland did a randomized controlled trial in healthy, but overweight, middle-aged persons. They used three daily portions of whole wheat or whole wheat mixed with oats. The conclusion was that daily consumption of 3 portions of whole-grain foods could significantly reduce cardiovascular disease risk mainly through blood pressure-lowering mechanisms. The researchers said that the observed decrease in systolic blood pressure (that’s the top/larger number) could decrease the incidence of coronary artery disease by 15% and stroke risk by 25%.

We reported in January in our post, Shouting from the Housetops, Eat Whole Grains on an earlier study done by Harvard researchers, who found decreased incidence of high blood pressure in those who consumed whole grains. The Scottish study showed that consuming whole grains could actually reduce blood pressure. Either way you look at it, it appears that whole grains have a positive impact on blood pressure. Researchers and those of us who follow research realize that every new angle, every new piece of research strengthens the findings of others. This is a great example.

There has been evidence borne out in research studies for well over a decade that eating whole grains can decrease the risk of heart disease. At first it was thought that it was just the water-soluble fiber from grains like oats, which were lowering cholesterol. But then research showed that men who ate the most bran (from grains like wheat, which doesn’t do much to lower cholesterol) have the lowest risk of heart disease. So we still don’t know exactly what’s going on to yield the health benefits. We do know that those who eat whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease, but we don’t know exactly how whole grains do it.

We’ve also known that eating whole grains is related to a lower risk of diabetes, and helps with weight management and constipation. So if the blood pressure benefits aren’t enough to get you choosing whole grains, then avoiding diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight or having better intestinal health may help you make this decision. It is certainly an easier decision to make now, than it was in the past. Currently there are many newly improved pasta products; and breads, pancakes, quick bread mixes, and cereals made exclusively 100% whole grains.

Keep eating whole grains and don’t believe the slick designers of marketing who want to sell you their cheap substitutes. In my mind it is unethical that so many food manufacturers are making white flour products and loading it up with cheap fiber, then trying to get your attention with the big fiber numbers. It’s the whole grain that is providing the big health benefits – not impoverished grains with added vitamins, minerals or added fiber.  So if you are trembling on the edge of decision, act now!  There are many wonderful whole grains products now in many categories. Check our store while you’re here. Our mixes, flour, and wheat berries are very yummy, and packed with all the benefits the research has so consistently been proving.

Flavorful Caramelized Onions, Lentils and Wheat Berries

Legumes and whole grains can taste really delicious, while they nourish you. This dish can be served as a side dish or a main dish. It has ample protein from the lentils, wheat berries and yogurt to serve as a main dish; but if your family likes more animal protein, you can add sautéed shrimp, chicken, or other meat. Don’t forget, whole grains are a great lunch or dinner option.


2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced and separated

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 cups cooked wheat berries

2 cups cooked brown lentils

¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ cup chopped red pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

Greek yogurt – zero fat works perfectly

Fresh basil, chopped


If you have cooked frozen wheat berries, defrost; or cook 2 cups of wheat berries in 4 cups water for about 1 ¼ hour, until tender.

Cook one-cup dry lentils in a covered saucepan for 20 minutes in 2 cups boiling water (don't add salt during cooking); don’t over cook. Option: use canned lentils.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a little salt and pepper; stir well to coat the onions with the oil. Cover the skillet for the first few minutes. Cook until the onions become deep brown and sticky, about 20 – 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (if the onions are becoming too dark too quickly, reduce the heat).

While the onions caramelize, chop the peppers and basil.

When the onions are brown, remove them from the skillet. Deglaze the skillet with a tablespoon or two of liquid if there are bits of onion in the skillet. Add the cooked wheat berries, lentils, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and heat; stirring frequently. Fold the onions back into the wheat and lentil mixture. Stir in the red bell pepper for the last minute.

Serve the lentil, wheat berry mixture topped with chopped basil and Greek yogurt.

Thinly slice the onions.

Put the sliced onions in the skillet.

Caramelize the onions, stirring about every five minutes.

Chop the red bell peppers while the onions are caramelizing.

When the onions are brown, remove from the skillet.

Add wheat berries, lentils, garlic, and spices; then fold the onions back into the mixture.

Warm until all the ingredients are heated.

Add the red bell peppers.

Stir and heat the peppers for a minute or two.

Serve the wheat berry mixture with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of basil.