Why Whole Grains?

Why whole grains?  We are recommended to eat 3 servings of whole grains a day.  Whole grains can help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and type-2 diabetes.  Whole grain products can ALL parts of the grain: the germ (has essential fatty acids and B-vitamins), the endosperm (starchy part of the grain), and the bran (the coating of the kernel with antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber).

So if a product isn’t whole grain, you are left with the endosperm – the starchy part that contains mainly carbohydrates; it also includes some protein and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.  The endosperm provides the fuel for when the germ sprouts, but it doesn’t provide the greatest amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients the other parts of the grain provide.

Many refined flours have added vitamins and minerals.  However, this doesn’t make the nutritional content the same as what is found in the original grain.  The health benefits are greater in an actual whole grain than in an equivalent source.

How to know if a grain is whole or not
You will always be getting the whole grain in foods like oatmeal, bulgur wheat, brown rice, popcorn, or quinoa.  This is harder with foods that have been created with flour – like bread, pasta, crackers, and tortillas.

When examining those products, look for the word “whole”.  Also, examine the first few ingredients of the food, as these make up the bulk of what you’re eating.

Flours to consider
1.    Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour: made from soft red winter wheat or soft white winter wheat.  It has a lower gluten protein content, so it works best in recipes that call for a more tender crumb – like cookies, cakes, quick breads, etc.  This can be substituted 1:1 for all-purpose flour.
2.    White Whole-Wheat Flour: can be substituted 1:1 for all-purpose flour.  This flour is not as heavy as traditional whole-wheat flour.

Response: After reading this, do you find it necessary to begin incorporating more whole grains into your diet?  What are some steps you might take to do this?

Resources
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Nutrition Diva

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