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Jewish World Review
On Nutrition: Hay is for horses
Neighbor David delivered some of his fresh-cut hay for the horses last week. Grown right here in our valley. Some of it is green and leafy alfalfa. The rest is a mixture of oats, wheat and barley. And it's even organic, he told us with a smile.
Impressive. Our horses are now nourished with locally grown multi-grain whole-grain organic hay.
Do Cal and Peppy care? Cal will eat pretty much anything … sometimes to his detriment. (Horses can get very sick if they overeat.)
Peppy is a more "delicate" eater. She nibbles on her hay and just naturally stops eating when she is no longer hungry.
Whatever our eating style, horses (and humans) can benefit from a variety of grains in our diets, say experts.
"Whole grains" for example, contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed, according to the definition by the Whole Grains Council. Thus, a "whole" grain includes the three main parts of a grain seed - the fiber-rich bran, the nutrient-rich germ and the energy-rich endosperm.
"Multi-grain" refers to "more-than-one" grain. And these mixtures provide an array of nutrients that exceed those from just one grain. For example, alfalfa (for horses) and quinoa (for humans) is higher in protein than other grains such as oats or rice. When we eat a mixture of whole grain foods, we help assure a better balance of nutrients in our diet.
Horses (and humans) need high quality "forage," say experts. This is the roughage that makes our tummies feel full and feeds the good bacteria in our intestines. Horses who don't get enough high fiber bulk in their diets will continue to seek food to fill them up, say equine experts. And it appears to be true for we humans as well.
Of course we humans don't need 20 pounds of hay every day like a 1,200-pound horse. But for our best health, we need about 25 grams of fiber - what horse experts call "gut fill" - from whole grains and other plant-based foods.
And just as mixtures of various hays provide the best overall nutrition for horses, mixtures of fibers from various whole grains are better for us than those that are isolated and provided in a supplement, say experts from the recent Whole Grains Summit 2012 conference.
Cal and Peppy seem to like their mixed hay diet of alfalfa, oats, wheat and barley. Makes me wonder if I need to mix up the grains in my diet a bit as well. Thank you, David!
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Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
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