Chew on This

Add more whole grains and mushrooms to your diet for a healthier you

Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of vitamin D.
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of vitamin D.

I’d like to give you a taste of three events happening this month. September is National Whole Grains Month, National Mushroom Month and Family Meals Month. All have the worthy goal of increasing healthy and nutritious behaviors.

Whole Grain Month — A whole grain is one that has not been highly processed and contains all three parts of the kernel. Refining removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25 percent of a grain’s protein is lost, and 17 nutrients are reduced. Wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye are all available as a whole grain. Whole grains are linked with reduced risk of numerous chronic health conditions including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends at least 3-4 servings of whole grains a day for adults. For more health information and recipes go to

National Mushroom Month — Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of vitamin D. And if that weren’t enough, mushroom are quite stealthy when it comes to decreasing the red meat in a recipe while preserving a savory taste. A 2014 article in Journal of Food Science described research done at the Culinary Institute of America. Meat was replaced by mushrooms in a carne asada and beef taco. Sodium was also reduced. Their findings were that a beef taco with reduced sodium and a 50 to 80 percent substitution of meat for ground white mushroom did not significantly alter the flavor profile of the dish. For tips on meat swaps and great mushroom recipes go to

National Family Meal Month — Great food tips are best shared with friends and loved ones. Family meals have repeatedly been validated by research as a way to reduce adolescent drug use, depression, and risky behavior and improve school performance. You don’t need to be related to the folks around the table to benefit from a shared meal. Dining together can start or strengthen a friendship. It promotes mindful eating as well as conversation. Diminish the prep with a potluck and savor the leftovers.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.