Whole Grains for Whole Health
Get healthier with whole grains
If you haven’t felt the “grain wave” yet, you will soon. Whole grains are being touted as the new super food, the new carb, the better way to better health, the latest dish de jour – and for once, the hype is deserved.Whole grains are a little piece of nutritional heaven. They’re packed with far more fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than their fairer, refined-grain counterparts - making them a much smarter carb choice for healthy eaters. Plus, they taste good, are easy to cook with, and can help you slim down!
Sound like a good thing? Want to know more? Read here.
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Whole and refined grains – what’s the difference?
Image courtesy of Bob's Red Mill
Despite their “new” presence on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, predate refined grains, such as white rice and refined white flour, by thousands of years. The process of refining grain on a grand scale is a relatively recent one made possible only by technological advancements.
You can think of a whole grain as a three-part package:
Bran (outer layer) - This outer layer is packed with fibre, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and B vitamins. 50-80 percent of the grain’s minerals and other health-promoting plant substances called phytochemicals are contained in the bran.
Germ (inner layer) - This inner layer is rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, B vitamins, vitamin E, and trace minerals, as well as containing healthy unsaturated fats.
Endosperm (middle layer) - This middle layer contains complex carbohydrates and protein. It also contains small amounts of B vitamins.
When a whole grain is processed in order to make a refined grain, two parts of the package - the bran and germ – are removed, leaving only the endosperm. In this process, 25 percent of the protein is removed along with at least 17 key nutrients. The refined grain also has five to seven times less fibre than the whole grain.
Why are whole grains so good?
Mercedes grains! Note that pearled barley is not whole grain, although lightly-pearled barley is. Image courtesy of the Whole Grains Council
Put it this way - if grains were cars, whole grains would be a deluxe model Mercedes with all the bells and whistles while refined grains would be a basic model car. Both get you from A to B, but the Mercedes is just that cut above.
The “bells and whistles” in whole grains are the many nutrients, including phytochemicals and antioxidants, that are missing from refined grains. These nutrients help to fight a number of diseases including:
So next time you’re choosing between white rice and brown rice, remember – go for the Mercedes!
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