Whole Grain Foods
What are Whole-grains?
Grains are made up of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. All three parts of grain are very important, because each of them have a different nutritional value. The bran is the hard outer layer of a grain, and is rich in fiber. The germ is the inner layer of grain, which contains vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. The endosperm is the largest part of the grain, and it contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of minerals and vitamins.
Whole grain means that all three parts of the grain are used. Grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, and millet are whole grains. Whole grains are a very important part of a healthy diet. Whole-grain foods are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and contain important vitamins and minerals. Before they are milled or refined, all grains are whole.
Refined grains have gone through a refining process, which removes most of the bran and some of the germ from the grain. Removal of the bran and germ increases the shelf life of these grains. The only part that remains is the starchy endosperm. Refined grains lose a lot of their nutritional content, including fiber, fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The most common examples of refined grains include white flour, white rice, and white pasta. These grains are associated with an increased risk for health problems including digestive disease, diabetes and obesity. Whole grain foods are better for overall nutrition and your diet than refined or processed grains.
Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, which can help relieve and prevent constipation. A diet rich in whole-grains also lowers the risk of colon cancer and helps diabetics control blood sugar. People who eat grains, especially whole grains, as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of chronic disease. Eating whole grains is good for your heart because it lowers bad cholesterol levels. Whole grain foods have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. People who eat plenty of whole grains tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of heart disease than those who don't. Studies show that eating a breakfast of whole grains helps sustain mental focus better than a morning meal of refined carbohydrates.
Whole Grains List:
- Brown rice
- Wilde rice
- Whole-grain Corn
- Whole-grain Rye
- Whole-grain Spelt
- Whole-wheat Bread
- Whole-wheat Pasta
- Read labels carefully when shopping for whole-grain products.
- Avoid processed or refined grains, like white flour or white rice, whenever possible.
- Look for whole-wheat products, such as pasta or bread that lists whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient.
- If you have gluten intolerance, you may want to avoid barley, rye, oats and wheat.
- Aim to eat at least 3 oz (85g) of whole grains daily to get the health benefits.
- Vary your choices of whole-grain foods.
- Be a role model for your children. Eating together as a family encourages children to consume more whole grains.