Whole grains contain all the essential parts and nutrients of the complete grain seed in their original proportions. Bran, germ, and endosperm must be present to be called as a whole grain.
Bran is a fiber-rich layer that has B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The germ is the core of the seed and it’s rich in healthy fats, vitamin E and B, and similar to bran, has phytochemicals and antioxidants, The endosperm is the middle/interior layer that has carbohydrates, protein and other vitamins and minerals.
Unlike refined grains, whole grains offer a complete package of health benefits. Refined grains are stripped of valuable nutrients in their process of production. Whole grains are rich in fiber and other important nutrients like B vitamins, iron, folate, selenium, potassium, and magnesium. Whole grains can be a single food, such as brown rice, and popcorn, or ingredients in a product.
Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are high in nutrients and fiber. One of the most known benefits of eating whole grains is that it lowers the risk of heart disease. Studies show that one-ounce serving of whole-grain daily can lower the risk of heart disease by 22%.
In conjunction with a lower risk of heart disease, it also lowers the risk of stroke. Weight loss is associated with eating high-fiber diets. Whole grains can reduce your risk of obesity because eating fiber-rich foods can fill you up and prevent overeating.
Fiber and magnesium are two nutrients found in whole grains that help your body metabolize carbohydrates that are tied to insulin sensitivity. This helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Whole grains also support healthy digestion and reduce chronic inflammation.
A Whole lot of Grains
There are a variety of whole grains available in the market. You can also create your grain recipes at home.
Whole oats are oats that contain endosperm, germ, and bran. It’s a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins. Whole oats have a specific kind of fiber known as beta-glucan, which is effective in lowering cholesterol. Whole oats have double the amount of protein compared to whole wheat or whole corn.
The best thing about the whole oats is that it’s a good way to start your day. It’s a satisfying breakfast and gluten-free rich in fiber and antioxidants. It’s easy to prepare with available home recipes such as adding a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and even adding almond milk.
You can also add berries, raisins, and bananas. Whole oats can also be baked like oatmeal cookies which will satisfy your sweet cravings.
Whole wheat is a whole grain in wheat form. It’s a key ingredient in baked goods such as pasta, noodles, and semolina. It’s found in many products as well such as cereals, bread, muffins, and cakes. Whole wheat is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Whole wheat is just like whole oats but sometimes comes in flour form. You have heaps of grain recipes available for this to create at home.
A delightful selection to bake such as whole wheat apple cookies, honey whole wheat cookies, and even browned-butter whole wheat muffin just to name a few. One thing to be mindful of whole wheat is most that are available in the market to consume are not gluten-free. You may want to moderate whole wheat intake on your diet.
Whole Grain Rye is part of the wheat family of whole grains. Rye however is more nutritious than wheat and has fewer carbohydrates. One of the reasons why rye bread is better than wheat bread is that it doesn’t raise as much blood sugar.
Whole-grain rye is also rich in fiber and is an alternative to wheat. Rye and wheat can be confusing, there are descriptions though on rye flour such as white rye which only contains endosperm, pumpernickel flour is coarse whole-grain rye. There are various types such as rye meal, dark rye, medium rye, and cream light rye.
Buckwheat might sound like part of whole-grain wheat but is actually not wheat. Buckwheat is a plant gathered or harvested for its grain-like seeds. Buckwheat seeds are packed with nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins, copper, and fiber. Buckwheat is also gluten-free and is an excellent source of resistant starch which is good for your digestive health.
Whole Barley is a cereal grain categorized in two: hulled barley and pearled barley. Barley’s when harvested, have an inedible outer layer that’s removed before it can be eaten. Hulled barleys are considered whole grain or minimally processed.
The preparation for this needs to be meticulous and the hull must be removed with the bran intact. There are also variants such as hulled barley which has its hull loosely attached, this maintains the bran and germ. Barley grits is also another form, these are cut into several pieces but are not considered a whole grain.
Pearled barley is polished and its outer hull and bran layer removed during cultivation and processing, thus it’s not considered a whole grain.
Quinoa is known to many as a superfood because it’s packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Because quinoa contains complete protein, this is a great option for vegans and vegetarians. This is a great alternative to starchy gains because it’s wheat-free. This superfood is naturally grown in South America and is growing in popularity around the world for its health benefits.
Brown rice is significantly better than white rice due to its health benefits and brown rice is a whole grain. The fiber in brown rice helps lower cholesterol and prevent the formation of blood clots. It’s also filling to eat, and makes you feel the urge to eat more making it ideal for those who are mindful of their diet.
During the production of rice, when the outer hull layer is removed and bran and other whole grain essentials are intact, brown rice is created. If the rice is milled to remove the bran and germ layer, white rice is produced.
Corn/Popcorn is whole grain if the bran, germ, and endosperm are intact. But if corn is milled and most of the components of whole grain are removed then it’s a refined grain. Corn is usually categorized as vegetable and corn that is dried, grain. This type of whole grain is an excellent source of high-quality carbohydrate that’s low in calories and rich in fiber.
Popcorn is a well-known snack that’s associated with watching movies. This is a healthier option than other heavily processed foods(junk foods) or candy bars that are actually detrimental to your health taken in large amounts.
If you’re on a diet or would like to lose some weight, eating whole-grain foods is an ideal solution coupled with daily exercise and proper rest. There are various recipes or ways to prepare whole-grain foods and this would surely impact your overall health.
Part of the fun is gathering different recipes to satisfy your delightful cravings. Always eat healthily and consider whole grain foods.