• gio

What are whole grains and why are they great?

Whole grains have an array of health benefits, unlike refined grains, which are stripped of valuable nutrients in the refining process. All whole grains are made up of three components: the bran, germ, and endosperm with each section containing health-promoting nutrients.


- The bran is the fibre-rich outer layer that supplies B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.


- The germ is the core of the seed where growth occurs; it is rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.


- And last but not least, the endosperm is the interior layer that holds carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals.


* Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds in plants that have been researched for their role in disease prevention.



These components have various effects on our bodies:

  • Bran and fibre slow the breakdown of starch into glucose which maintains steady blood sugar as opposed to causing sharp spikes.

  • Fibre helps to lower cholesterol and move waste through the digestive tract.

  • Fibre also helps prevent the formation of small blood clots that can trigger heart attacks or strokes.

  • Phytochemicals and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper found in whole grains may protect against some cancers.



In the late 19th century, the invention of industrialized roller mills became the typical way to process grains into flour. This technique strips away the all important bran and germ leaving only the soft, easy-to-digest endosperm. Without the fibrous bran, the grain is easier to chew, however you then miss out on a lot of the health benefits. The germ is removed because of its fat content, which can limit the shelf life of processed wheat products. All in all resulting in a highly processed grain with lower nutritional value.


Some nutrients may be added back by fortification but other health-promoting components of whole grains such as phytochemicals cannot be replaced.


Other techniques of turning grain into flour include stone grounding which is designed to obtain 100% wholegrain flour by milling the entire kernel. This means all the nutritional value of the grain is kept in tact (psstt... this is how we make all of our pasta - just saying!). Moreover, white stoneground flour is the result of careful sifting of the whole stoneground flour in an attempt to remove the bigger part of the bran.



Choosing to consume whole grains and other less-processed refined grains can directly improve health in many ways such as:

  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease -> Eating whole grains substantially lowers total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels.

  • Reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes -> The fibre, nutrients, and phytochemicals in whole grains may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism and slow the absorption of food, preventing blood sugar spikes. [For those with diabetes, choosing wholegrains can help maintain optimum blood sugar readings].

  • Aids digestive health -> Diverticulitis, an inflammation of the intestine, is one of the most common age-related disorders of the colon in Western society. Among male health professionals in a long-term follow-up study, eating dietary fibre, particularly insoluble fibre, was associated with about a 40 percent lower risk of diverticular disease.

  • Phytochemicals and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper found in whole grains may protect against some cancers.



So the takeaway? It's simple, eat more wholegrains!


Did you know all of these facts already? Feel free to share anymore or leave a comment down below. Thanks for reading!




 

Reference

Harvard University, The Nutrition Source, 2018, in particular, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/

To find out more please follow the link for more details.

Terms of Use

The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All