By Carl Hanson

Replacing unhealthy foods with whole grains can improve your health...and potentially lengthen your life. That's the word from Harvard Medical School.

In every whole grain kernel, the germ part of the kernel contains the good stuff -- the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and healthy oils -- all of which are removed in the refining process. Also lost during processing is the bran, which features the fiber. That's bad news for the body.

What are the benefits of eating whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley versus refined grains? A recent article in Harvard Health Publications explains: "Swapping out even relatively small quantities of unhealthy foods for whole grains can lead to large health gains." In fact, "replacing refined grains and red meats in your daily diet with an equal amount of whole grains can potentially lengthen life by 8% to 20%."

Photo by Getty Images

OK, now that we're all sold on the concept. Let's get to the whole grain recipes.

A Few 5-Star Recipes from the Whole Grain Hall of Fame

1. Beaker's Vegetable Barley Soup

"Easy to make and delicious," says BEAKER1. "Vegetable broth, barley, and lots of veggies make this soup hearty and filling."

Photo by CCloves2bake

Find more Barley Recipes.

2. Megan's Granola

"I added extra oats and walnuts," says justquilting. "I think this recipe is pretty versatile so experiment with different ingredients or with whatever you have on hand."

Photo by CCloves2bake

Find more Oats Recipes.

3. Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad

Enjoy this versatile quinoa salad in warm tortillas, as a filling for tacos and burritos.

Photo by CookinBug

Find more Quinoa Recipes.

4. Cherry Farro Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette

"Here's a delicious salad using a whole grain that not only tastes good but is good for you,' raves Traci-in-Cali. "The flavors are refreshing and sweet while the crunchy nuts and farro give it wonderful texture!"

Photo by LilSnoo

5. Garlic Chicken Fried Brown Rice

"Leftover brown rice is reborn in this chicken fried rice with bell peppers, peas, garlic, and green onions," says JOYCE.

Find more Brown Rice Recipes.

6. Fresh Tabbouleh

"A wonderful fresh and healthy salad alternative," says cynjne. Especially delicious when fresh local ingredients are in abundance."


Find more Bulgur Recipes.

7. Gluten-Free Stuffing (with Millet)

"The best stuffing and easy to make," says Susan27. "Used Udi's Millet-Chia bread. Toasted it in the oven, then combined and baked in my cast iron skillet."

Photo by mis7up

Find more Millet Recipes.

8. Dad's Double Whole Grain Pancakes

"Whole grain pancakes may not sound very attractive," says Susan. "But i loved these. Thanks for the healthy recipe!"

Photo by LynnInHK

Take a look at the complete collection of Whole Grain Recipes.