If you’re anything like me, you’re probably overwhelmed with information and choices about what to put into your body. There is a lot to consider from nutritional benefits, to taste, to cost and to the effects it will have on your body.
Then there are those fad diets and extreme diets urging you to eliminate foods from your diet, not just harmful foods but nutritious foods. How does that make any sense? I’ve successfully lost more than 20 pounds and have kept it off for a year by simply eliminating foods that are harmful to me (refined sugars, processed foods, coffee, wheat and dairy). But that’s me 🙂 You have to find what works for you. I’m hoping that some of this information will help take some of the guesswork out of choosing healthy grains and alternatives to wheat.
So let’s jump in!
What is a whole grain?
According to WebMD, “A whole grain contains all edible parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. The whole grain may be used intact or recombined, as long as all components are present in natural proportions.”
A grain is considered whole when it is comprised of 3 parts: Bran, Germ and Endosperm.
According to HealthCastle.com, “…whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber, as well as other valuable antioxidants not found in some fruits and vegetables. Most of the antioxidants and vitaminsare found in the germ and the bran of a grain.”
Wheatfreefood.com illustrates this best:
“To visualize a whole grain’s structure, think of an egg. The bran in a whole grain is akin to the shell of an egg, it is the protective outer coat. The germ is within the bran similar to the white of an egg. And the endosperm is the innermost part of a whole grain much like a yolk sits in an egg.”
So, what’s the difference between WHOLE grains and REFINED grains?
“Refined grains have their bran, germ, and most of the vitamins and nutrients removed during processing. The only part that remains is the starchy endosperm. This is why refined grains have more of an impact on raising blood sugar levels and thus have a higher glycemic index. Whole grains as mentioned earlier, contain the endosperm but also contain the germ and the bran. The bran provides abundant fiber which helps with satiety and slows down absorption keeping blood sugar levels happy, making whole grains a very good source of nutrition.”
Other reasons they are FANTASMIC?
Because whole grains are high in fiber, they aid in the following:
- Lowering risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood coagulation.
- Helping to regulate blood glucose (especially those with diabetes)
- Contributing to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies have also shown that people who consume more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who consumed less whole grain products.
It is recommended that women get at least 25g of fiber a day and men should get at least 35g of fiber a day. This shouldn’t be too hard to achieve since each serving of whole grains yield from 1 to 4 g of fiber per serving, comparable to fruit and vegetables. If you have balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, it should be manageable.
What are the options?
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Brown rice
- Whole rye
- Whole-grain barley
- Wild rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- 100% whole wheat flour
How do we incorporate into our diet?
Choose whole-grain breads (like Ezekiel), cereals, bagels and crackers. Be sure to read the ingredients on the package to ensure that there is very little sugar, in fact, there shouldn’t be any sugar in the mix if it’s whole grain. And make sure that all the ingredients are from REAL food – nothing you don’t understand or cannot pronounce. The simpler, the better!
Here are some quick suggestions:
- Sandwiches with whole grain breads (like Ezekiel).
- Whole oats in the morning
- Snacks including whole grain crackers or make your own trail mix with whole oats
- Use rice and quinoa when making your meals, rather than white rice or white pasta
So readers, I’d love to hear from you: How will you incorporate whole grains into your diet?
Stay tuned for a few recipes involving whole grain rice and quinoa!