Heart Month Week 1: Cooking with Whole Grains

February is Heart Month and we want to share tips all month long to help keep you heart as healthy as possible.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada state that 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke are preventable with healthy lifestyle behaviours.

This is often easier said than done for people living in poverty as they have limited access to healthy foods which can help reduce their risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Whole grains can be found in many items provided by food banks, such as oats, barley, and brown rice. So this week we are going to be talking about cooking with whole grains.

You may already be eating whole grains – popcorn, a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, or giving a bowl of Cheerios to your toddler.

Whole grains are an excellent source of:
  • B vitamins
  • fibre
and a good source of:
  • protein
  • antioxidants
Health Benefits of Whole Grains
  • Can lower blood cholesterol
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Help balance blood sugar and reduce risk of diabetes
  • Help with weight control
  • Promote bowel regularity
  • Improve gut health
Whole Grains and Fibre

When it comes to heart health, fibre is key as it can help lower the risk of heart disease. Most Canadians do not eat enough fibre, but the good news is that with a few small changes you can use whole grains to really improve your fibre intake.

  • Women should aim for 25g of fibre per day
  • Men should aim for 36g of fibre per day

Children need fibre too

  • Children under age 3 years need 19g
  • Children ages 4-8years need 25g
  • Children ages 9-13 years need 31g

Week 1: A Tip a Day for Adding More Whole Grain Foods to Your Diet

When picking foods, look at the ingredient list. Look for foods with whole grain as the first ingredient.

Add a handful of pot barley or brown rice to your favourite soup.

Need some inspiration? Try THIS minestrone soup recipe from Unlock Food.

Be prepared – make overnight oats for breakfast. Try THIS delicious recipe from Unlock Food: Overnight Apple Pie Oatmeal

Switching from white bread to whole wheat bread can provide an extra 3g of fibre per 2 slices.

Switching from white rice to brown rice adds an extra 3.5g of fibre per cup of cooked rice

White rice is only .5g while brown rice is 4g.

New to brown rice? Try combining brown and white rice and cooking them together. The blend adds a nuttiness and more interesting texture to a meal.

Just add I cup water for every 1 cup white rice and 2 cups water for every one cup of brown rice.

Check your morning cereal and choose a variety with 4g or more of fibre per serving.


When reading a Nutrition Facts table on your food items,
use the % Daily value (%DV) as a guide and remember:

  • 5% DV or less is a little
  • 15% DV is a lot

Choose the food with the higher %DV fibre content!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Need food?

Use our look up tool to find the community food program in your neighbourhood.