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Why You Should Eat More Whole Grains

Good Day Y’all!

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I am hearing news of good progress on St Thomas, and I simply cannot wait to get back this week! Since I posted a lot of recipes last week, this post is focusing more on nutrition education and today’s topic is Whole Grains! The benefits to eating whole grains are numerous. In Caribbean diets, there tends to be a large amount of white rice, as well as, fried breads and breading made with white, refined, wheat flour. Increasing your intake of whole grains is one way to improve your health. I know whole grains products can be expensive on island, but they don’t have to be. If we can increase the demand, we can
decrease the price!


Why should you eat more whole grains?

  • Whole grains are naturally packed with vitamins and minerals. They also tend to be higher in  protein than refined grains
  • Whole grains are additionally higher in fiber, which will make you feel fuller for longer. Increasing fiber in your diet can reduce bad cholesterol (Riccioni et al, 2012) and help improve symptoms of IBS (Moayyedi et al, 2014)
  • Research shows people who eat more whole grains have a lower risk of dying from obesity, heart disease, type two diabetes, and certain cancers! (Zhang et al, 2017)

Whole grain vs Refined grain

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Every type of grain has a different structure, but they all contain three main parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. The term ‘whole grain’ is used to describe an intact grain, flour or a food that contains all three parts of the grain. Refining grains removes the bran and germ. This process also removes some important nutrients, including B-vitamins, iron and dietary fiber. Most refined grains are enriched, which means that some of the B vitamins and iron are added back after processing. Fiber, however, is not added back to enriched grains.

Examples of Whole Grains

~Amaranth~

Ancient grain of the Aztecs. Peppery taste and a higher level of protein (it’s roughly 13-14% protein) compared to most other grains. In South America, it is often sold on the streets, popped like corn.

HEALTH BONUS: Amaranth has a high level of very complete protein; its protein contains lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains.

~Barley~

One of the oldest cultivated grains; Egyptians buried mummies with necklaces of barley. It is a highly-adaptable crop, growing north of the Arctic circle and as far south as Ethiopia.

HEALTH BONUS: The fiber in barley is especially healthy; it may lower cholesterol even more effectively than oat fiber.

~Bulgar~

When wheat kernels are cleaned, boiled, dried, ground by a mill, then sorted by size, the result is bulgur. This wheat product is sometimes referred to as “Middle Eastern pasta”.

HEALTH BONUS: Bulgur has more fiber than quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat or corn. Its quick cooking time and mild flavor make it ideal for those new to whole grain cooking.

~Corn~

Fresh corn on the cob. Popcorn. Corn cakes. Polenta. Tortillas. Corn muffins. Though sometimes dismissed as a nutrient-poor starch – both a second-rate vegetable and a second-rate grain – corn is lately being reassessed and viewed as a healthy food.

HEALTH BONUS: Research from Cornell shows that corn has the highest level of antioxidants of any grain or vegetable – almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples!

~Millet~

The leading staple grains in India, and are commonly eaten in China, South America, Russia and the Himalayas. Millet’s incredible versatility means it can be used in everything from flatbreads to porridges.

HEALTH BONUS:  Millet is naturally high in protein and antioxidants and may help control blood sugar and cholesterol.

~Quinoa~

Originates in the Andes and is the ancient grain of the Incas. Quinoa is a small, light-colored round grain, similar in appearance to sesame seeds.

HEALTH BONUS: The abundant protein in quinoa is complete protein, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own.

~Brown Rice~

White rice is a refined grain, not a whole grain, because the germ and bran have been removed. Whole grain rice is usually brown – but, unknown to many, can also be black, purple, red or any of a variety of exotic hues.

HEALTH BONUS: Rice is one of the most easily-digested grains –This makes rice ideal for those on a restricted diet or who are gluten-intolerant.

More Whole Grains: Farro, Buckwheat, Oats, Freekeh, Wheat berry, Spelt, Triticale, Rye, Teff, Maize

At the Grocery Store…Don’t be fooled by false advertising, be sure to read the ingredient label!

Words in Ingredient List Is this Whole Grain?
Whole grain [name of grain], whole wheat / whole [other grain], stoneground whole [grain], whole meal, brown rice, oats, oatmeal, multigrain, sprouted, whole grain, malted whole grain, sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat Yes, these are whole grain
Wheat, or wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat, organic flour, stone ground No, these are usually not whole grain
Enriched flour, de-germinated (corn) bran, wheat germ, legumes such as soybeans, lupins, lentils, seeds* like chia, linseed, sesame seed, etc. No, these are not whole grain

*note, some seeds do have nutritional benefits even though not consider whole grains

 

 

 

 

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