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Eat a Variety of Grains per Day for Essential Nutrients

Almost half of Canadian women under fifty, and more over that age, do not eat enough breads and cereals. By missing out on the recommended 5 to 12 servings daily, their diets can be missing important essential nutrients.

"It's a fallacy to think that avoiding grain products will help you lose weight," says nutritionist Laura Pasut. "Research shows that reducing carbohydrate intake without reducing calories does not lead to weight loss. People who eat at least one serving of whole grains each day have healthier weights than those who do not eat whole grains at all."

Pasut reminds women that:

*White wheat flour, enriched pasta and enriched cornmeal are fortified with folic acid - a nutrient needed for healthy pregnancies. Since folic acid was added to white wheat flour and enriched pasta in 1998 there has been a reduction in neural tube defects of about 50% across Canada.

* Grains, like bread, pasta, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal are naturally low in fat.

* Whole grains contain fibre and phytochemicals, which help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

* White bread, including bagels, flatbread, pizza bread and buns, provide essential B vitamins - thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid - as well as iron.

* A variety of grains every day is the key to ensuring you're benefiting from all the nutrients in breads, pasta, rice and cereals.

"If you're concerned about fat or calories, think about the add-ons," suggests Pasut. "A cup of pasta is only 208 Calories while the 1/2 cup of Alfredo sauce is 337 calories.

Vegetables or tomato sauce on pasta or rice are healthier and have fewer calories. In sandwiches, spreads such as mustard or salsa add flavour without the fat."

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