There is quite a buzz these days about eating whole grains and thankfully so. The United States Military is now serving soldiers whole grains over processed grains. Michelle Obama is advocating whole grains in the schools. Best-Selling food author Michael Pollan is telling us to eat foods closest to nature, like whole grains, because they’re healthier and tastier.
Yet, knowing which products are truly whole grain and healthy can be confusing! Especially when so many commercially produced products can contain puzzling claims.
Understanding what constitutes a whole grain product is pretty simple. The product must feature all parts of the grain – the bran, germ and endosperm. If any of the parts are removed, so is the whole grain designation. Refined grains are those that have one or two grain parts removed, which removes naturally occurring nutrients and other healthful benefits like fiber.
The bran, the outer most layer of a grain kernel, is where the fiber comes from along with some vitamins and minerals. The endosperm of a grain is mainly the carbohydrate source. It contains good things like trace proteins, vitamins and minerals. The germ of the kernel is a nutrient powerhouse because it contains good fats and vitamins, especially B and E and minerals.
3 Whole Grain Servings a Day
Whole grains are good for you. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans by MyPyramid (the FDA food) recommends three or more servings a day. Why? Because whole grains among other things, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and certain types of cancers. Whole grains are also great for weight management because they provide a consistent source of energy and help you stay fuller longer.
The essential vitamins found in whole grains include iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and many B-vitamins. Surprising but true- whole grains from wheat and oats are equal in antioxidant activity to spinach and broccoli! Plus, carbohydrates are the only source of energy for your red blood cells and are a main source of energy for the brain and central nervous system. This is particularly important during pregnancy. Also, children who eat more whole grains reduce their risk of obesity, diabetes and asthma.
The big picture for good health is to remember that a diet rich in whole natural foods, such as whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits is rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants, which are essential to your health and lifestyle. The key is to eat delicious, nutritious foods closest to nature – like whole grains.
By Guest Author Carol Rutledge
Carol’s passion for nutrition and baking led her to open the Great Harvest Bread Co. in Rome, GA. She loves offering Rome the best tasting breads and sweets around. She is a 3rd generation native “Roman”.