Health Benefits of Grains

Preserving Grains' Nutritional Value

An important part of including a good variety of grains in your daily diet is knowing how to store them. You don't want them to lose their nutritional value as they sit in your cupboard or on the shelf until you are ready to cook.

All cereal should be stored in a dry location. Keep the inner bag folded down tightly to keep bugs out, or store the cereal in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Once opened, it'll keep for a few months before it goes stale, unless you live in a humid environment. If so, your best bet is not to buy the large box unless you know you'll finish it in a month or so. Another option is to transfer the cereal to a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate it.

Keep oats in a dark, dry location in a well-sealed container to keep bugs out. Store the container in the refrigerator if you live in a humid locale. The oats will keep up to a year. Whole-oat groats are more likely to become rancid, so be sure to refrigerate them.

Dried pasta is fine stored in your cupboards for months, especially if transferred to airtight containers.

Putting your colored pastas in see-through glass jars makes a pretty display, but they'll lose B vitamins that way; better to keep them cool and dry, away from light, and sealed up tight. Rice and other grains are also best stored in a cool, dark location. Brown rice is more perishable than white rice. It keeps only about six months -- slightly longer if you refrigerate it.

Because of its fat content, wheat germ goes rancid easily. Always store opened wheat germ in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. If you buy it in a jar, you can simply store it in the refrigerator in its original container. Fresh wheat germ should smell something like toasted nuts, not musty.

Unopened, a sealed jar of wheat germ will keep for about one year. Once opened, it can keep up to nine months in the refrigerator if the jar is resealed tightly.

Whole-wheat breads may not have preservatives added. To prevent your bread from going stale, leave out at room temperature only as much as you'll eat in the next day or two, and keep it tightly closed in a plastic bag. Put the rest in the freezer. It defrosts quickly at room temperature if you take out one or two slices as needed. Or you can defrost a few slices in a jiffy in the microwave. But don't refrigerate your bread -- it actually goes stale faster.

Grains are an important source of carbohydrates and energy. When choosing grain products, it is best to select items made from whole grains. Though there are many tales and truths about grains, the right selection will give your body more disease-fighting potential and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

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