Elevate Your Nutrition with Wholesome Whole Grains

Taking charge of your health and well-being involves making informed choices about your diet, including smarter snacking habits. While many people understand the basics of healthy eating, such as limiting sugary treats, some might still be unclear about crucial food categories that can significantly impact their nutrition.

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association, U.S. adults are least knowledgeable about the distinction between refined and whole grains, in comparison to other food categories like fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Whole grains play a vital role in the Association’s recommendations for a heart-healthy diet.

Grains come in two types: whole grains, which retain the entire grain structure, and refined grains, which are processed into finer textures like flour or meal. The survey indicates that most adults can distinguish between whole and refined grains, but there are some misconceptions.

For instance, a common misbelief is that multi-grain bread qualifies as a whole grain. Additionally, only 17% of respondents recognized sorghum as an example of a whole grain when, in reality, it indeed falls into that category. Whole grains like sorghum, oatmeal, and brown rice are abundant sources of dietary fiber, can improve blood cholesterol levels, and provide essential nutrients that support cell formation, regulate thyroid function, and bolster the immune system.

For a delightful and nutritious snack option, try these Date Nut Granola Bars from the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good initiative, supported by the Sorghum Checkoff. Featuring a surprise crunch from popped sorghum, along with dry-roasted oats and nuts, these bars offer a delicious toasted flavor.

Date Nut Granola Bars

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association and Sorghum Checkoff Servings: 12 (1 bar per serving)


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond slices or whole almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup uncooked whole-grain sorghum
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. On a large baking sheet, spread oats, almonds, and pistachios in a single layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly.
  4. In a food processor or blender, process dates and cranberries for 1-1 1/2 minutes, or until chopped and clumpy. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons of sorghum in a silicone microwaveable bowl or a clean, brown paper bag. If using a microwaveable bowl, cover with a lid. If using a paper bag, roll it shut and place it on a microwavable dinner plate with the fold facing down. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until there are more than 10 seconds between pops. Repeat with the remaining sorghum, microwaving for 1 1/2 minutes, or until there are more than 10 seconds between pops.
  6. Stir the popped sorghum, oats, almonds, and pistachios into the date mixture.
  7. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat honey and peanut butter for 5 minutes, or until the peanut butter is smooth and the mixture is warmed, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and salt.
  8. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the date mixture, stirring to break into small clumps. Transfer half of the mixture to the baking pan. Using the bottom of a drinking glass or fingers lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, press down firmly to flatten and pack tightly so that the clumps adhere to each other. Repeat with the remaining half. Freeze, covered, for about 1 hour to firm.
  9. Place a cutting board over the pan. Turn the pan over and discard the plastic wrap. Using a knife, cut the mixture into 12 bars. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Discover more whole-grain recipes that support heart health and overall well-being by visiting Heart.org/healthyforgood.

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