Mia Hamm joins the Grain Foods Foundation in efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of whole grain foods

Former US Soccer star Mia Hamm has partnered up with the Grain Foods Foundation, “a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004” that seeks to educate the public on the benefits of whole grains in the human diet. For Hamm, forming a partnership with Grain Foods was a no-brainer.

“As an athlete, and now as a busy mom of three, I know firsthand how important carbohydrates are – in particular for the energy they provide. Overall I think it’s important to remind people they’re a very important part of a healthy diet because there is certainly a lot of misinformation out there.

“One thing I’ve learned as I’ve had children is the importance of folic acid, a B vitamin found in enriched grains like white bread, pastas and cereals, which may help prevent some birth defects.  Enriched grains are the primary source of folic acid in Americans’ diets and have been credited with a 36 percent reduction in birth defects since the FDA mandated fortification in 1998.  Any women of child-bearing age should make sure to get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily,” she said.

She also offered some tips to make sure kids get the grains they need in their diets as well.

• Toast with peanut butter and assorted fruit slices. To up the fun, allow your child to decorate the toast and make funny faces with the pieces of fruit.

• Set up an oatmeal bar with all the fixings. Give your child a bowl of oatmeal and have him/her customize it with his/her favorite fruit and nut toppings.

• For snack time, mix up a homemade trail mix combining nuts, pretzels, popcorn and even your favorite cereal.

• Food on a stick is always more fun! Gather your family around the table to create a kabob assembly line; the possibilities are endless and they are great for any meal. For breakfast or a snack, try a mix of fruits and toast squares to dip in yogurt or peanut butter; for lunch or dinner, try grilled meats and veggies on a bed of rice.

• And, don’t forget about the old favorite – the sandwich. Pair your favorite bread with any toppings and spreads and you’ll have a meal ready in minutes.

Hamm revealed her favorite way to incorporate grains into her diet.

“I love a big plate of pasta every now and again, and I still find the good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich to be the perfect snack to keep me going. In fact, I used to eat one of those before every game,” she said.

For people who struggle with getting an adequate amount of grains in their diet, Hamm suggested the Grain Foods Foundation handy chart on its website, which identifies the different kinds of whole grains and easy ways to incorporate them into one’s diet.

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