When talking about nutritious diets, you always hear “eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.” Whole grains, those magic words just say: “healthy and good for you.” You see labels on breads, crackers, even cereal saying: made with whole grains, more whole grains, whole grains guaranteed! Just what are whole grains???
The month of September is considered “whole grain month,” so as the month closes out, lets learn what whole grains are and why they are considered such an important staple in our diet
A whole grain:
First off, what is a grain? A grain is wheat, rice, oat, corn, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye. All of these grains start off as whole grains, also called a kernel. It’s made up of:
o Outer skin layer (edible)- full of antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.
o The embryo that has the potential to grow into a new plant. It’s full of B vitamins also along with protein, minerals, and some healthy fats.
o The food supply that provides energy to the plant! It’s the largest part of the kernel. It is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, along with a small amount of vitamins and minerals.
When we talk about ‘whole grains’ we literally mean the whole thing, the bran, germ, and endosperm. All of these combined delivers a protein, fiber packed power food. Refined foods are created when the bran and germ are removed, only the endosperm. This gives them a longer shelf life yes, but not the health benefits the whole grain once had. Through processing, vitamins and minerals can be added back in to have some good nutrients, but not as good in comparison to the whole grain itself!
Why are whole grains such a big deal?
As we just learned, whole grains are a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins (B&E). Whole grains also contain magnesium and iron! So, what do these whole grains do for your health?
Lower risk of colorectal cancer
Help with weight maintenance/ weight loss- fiber makes you feel full and more satisfied.
Vitamins and minerals help from carrying oxygen in the blood, to the immune system, and even thyroid regulation.
Time to grocery shop! What to look for?
Important words to look for on packages:
The following have all parts of the grain!
Stoneground whole grain
Words to watch for- these words never describe whole grain!