Hi friends. It’s late as I write this so excuse me if you see a million typos but I must power on. I am even citing research for this one! Ha. I’ve been thinking it’s time for a nutrition related post and I can’t stop thinking about whole grains because a lot of people are very misinformed about them.
I am not going sit here and argue Paleo versus non-Paleo. I am not going to include discussion on those who are gluten intolerant because there is no need. There are plenty of healthy whole grains that are naturally gluten free. So to the general population that doesn’t have any health issues going on, this is for you.
There was a day back in the mid 90s where everyone thought eating “fat free” was the way to go. That lead to a higher, albeit a lower fat, carbohydrate diet….because you know, pretzels are fat free and so are rice cakes and cereal and BREAD. We thought eating all of those things will make us healthy! Wrong, very wrong. People got fatter and disease rates went up. People went overboard on the low fat carbs, but weren’t necessarily focusing on whole grains. Then after the realization that they were getting fatter and unhealthier, they changed their tune and thought carbs were evil. Very few people really focus on the type of grains they are eating, but rather group them into this “carbs are bad” category.
However, science universally acknowledges the health benefits of these whole grains.
What I think though? Is that people still have an issue with them because they think all carbs make you fat (replay story mentioned about about the “fat free” trend). By the way this is when I should insert a photo of my husband’s rock hard abs and arms for that matter, a guy who eats a healthy balanced diet with daily whole grains (oatmeal, whole grain bread, quinoa, etc.).
Despite the growing body of evidence that regular whole grain consumption can help prevent the development of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer (1) and the recommendations to eat more whole grains, people still seem confused. So let me drive my point home.
Those who eat whole grains have a reduced risk of all chronic diseases, weigh less and live longer than those who don’t eat them. It’s not my opinion. It’s science.
Whether it be the phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals in the bran, omega 3 fatty acids in the germ, scientists still can’t say for sure. However, they do know that people who get all of those same thing via supplements or other foods are still not as healthy as those who eat whole grains! Whether it be something that has yet to be identified or the fact that a whole food is greater than a breakdown of it’s components, we don’t know.
So what is a whole grain?
Whole grains contain the entire grain seed including 3 parts: bran, germ and endosperm. If a kernel is crushed and cracked, it must still contain similar proportions of these items to be considered a whole grain.
What are some examples of whole grains?
Oats, bulger, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, sorghum (and many more).
I am going to give you 5 straight forward reasons to why you should be eating whole grains.
1. Cardiovascular Disease
2. Type 2 Diabetes
3. Colon Cancer
Why is it about whole grains disease prevention?
Again, whole grains are complex. They are made up of antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and fiber so no single thing has been identified as being the responsible .
How much should we be eating?
The Dietary Guidelines state to consume at least 3 servings a day and we as Americans fall very short on that, averaging less than one serving per day (3). Considering true portion sizes, 3 servings is not much (it could be 1 cup of oatmeal and 1 slice of a whole grain bread).
And one more thing I’d like to point out….do you ever see those sprouted breads, tortillas, cereals, etc. and wonder about them? What are they you ask? “Sprouted grains are whole grains that have been soaked and left to germinate”(3) and from the Whole Grain Council “Proponents of sprouted grains claim that grains that have just begun sprouting – those that are straddling the line between a seed and a new plant — offer all the goodness of whole grains, while being more readily digested”. The health benefits from sprouted grains range from improving glucose metabolism and reducing inflammation to lowering blood pressure. In addition, research shows that vitamins such as folate, and phytonutrients such as quercitin and rutin, are higher in sprouted grains than in traditional grain-based products.
So go eat your whole grains and since there are so many, if you don’t like or can’t eat a certain one, experiment with the others.
Here are some whole grain recipes….
Popcorn Trail Mix (yup, popcorn is a whole grain!)
And a big thank you to Brittany, a Registered Dietitian at Your Choice Nutrition for saving me the time to have to write about this…..10 Ancient Grains You Should Be Eating. It’s a must read if you want to expand your palate beyond whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
Also, this post written by Betsy, also a Registered Dietitian who beaks down some confusion with whole grain labeling and shares a little more about serving size and children’s needs Lunch Box Lesson 2: Fuel Up With Whole Grains! Without these two great posts, this post would be at a few thousand words!