Beneficial Whole Grains for Your Health
Most of us have a diet packed full of refined unhealthy white foods—everything from cakes, bread, rice, and pasta. We don’t really see things like pasta, rice, and bread as bad for us; after all, they are carbohydrates and are part of the food pyramid.
The truth is a lot of these everyday carbs that we eat are empty calories because they are made from refined ingredients. In fact, we lose a lot of vitamins and minerals through the refining process so that by the time we eat a serving of white rice; we are not even getting half the nutrients we should. So our diets should have a lot more whole grains than they do.
What are Whole Grains?
A grain comprises three components or parts, the outer layer known as bran, the middle layer (germ-layer), and the inner layer endosperm (high starch content).
A whole grain is a grain that has all three of these components completely intact. In addition, they contain high levels of fibre, magnesium, iron, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins. Using whole grains in your diet has shown a reduction in illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Beneficial Whole Grains
The following are some highly beneficial whole grains:
Quinoa is an incredibly old grain found in South Africa and has widely become known as a superfood over the last few years.
This ancient grain contains more vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and fiber than common grains like whole wheat and oats.
Additionally, quinoa is high in antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, which assist in neutralizing potentially toxic substances called free radicals. Chronic disorders such as chronic inflammation, heart disease, and cancer have all been related to free radicals.
2. Whole Barley
Barley is a cereal grain that has been eaten for hundreds of years and is incredibly versatile.
Barley can be found in two different forms: whole (or hulled) barley and pearled barley. Only hulled barley falls under the whole grain category of these two due to the minimal amount of processing it goes through.
Hulled barley contains high amounts of minerals such as selenium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, and potassium, along with B vitamins and dietary fibers. Unfortunately, barley is not gluten-free and so cannot be used in gluten-free diets.
3. Brown Rice
Brown rice has become a widely used, healthier alternative to white rice.
That is mainly due to the fact that brown rice is a whole grain, i.e., it includes all three parts of the grain. The bran, germ, and endospore layers are all present, unlike its alternative white rice, which is not a whole grain and lacks the bran and germs parts of the grain.
The bran and germ layers are packed full of nutrients making brown rice a far healthier option. Brown rice contains a large number of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibres, and antioxidants.
According to research, the components of brown rice have been linked to a variety of health benefits. Brown rice carries lignans, for example, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to decrease the chances of coronary heart disease by lowering blood pressure, LDL known as bad cholesterol, and reducing inflammation.
Brown rice is also gluten-free, which means that it is a great dietary addition for those who need gluten-free carbohydrates.
4. Whole Oats
Oats are some of the healthiest complete grains you can have in your diet.
Whole oats are full of the brim with dietary fibres, vitamins, and minerals and they are even gluten-free.
An added benefit of whole oats is their antioxidant properties which come from molecules like avenanthramide.
Avenanthramide is an antioxidant that has been seen to decrease cancers like colon cancers and is beneficial in reducing high blood pressure.
Unhealthy flours and grains are those that have been processed and refined to such an extent that they have lost a large amount of their nutritious value.
These refined ingredients are full of empty carbs and have been linked to obesity and illness like diabetes, type 2, and heart disease. The loss of fibers from these foods can cause digestion problems and decreases the feeling of fullness that can come from whole grain foods.
1. White Pasta
It is made from refined wheat grain, which contains fewer dietary fibres, vitamins, and minerals due to the refining process.
2. White Bread
Usually made from wheat flour in which the bran and germ layer has been lost because of refinement. This causes a loss of nutrients such as fibres and vitamins, and minerals. White bread also includes added sugars which are not beneficial to a healthy diet.
3. Whole Wheat Pastas
Whole-grain pasta is made entirely from whole wheat grain and whole grain doesn’t always mean healthy!
The use of whole wheat grain as opposed to refined wheat makes this pasta more nutritious. Whole grain pasta comes packed with vitamins, dietary fibres, and minerals in far greater quantities than regular pasta.
This pasta also has the added benefit of being far more filling and full of nutritious carbs than the empty carbs of regular kinds of pasta.
However, this pasta is created from pulverized whole wheat flour, making them less beneficial when compared to brown rice or quinoa. It is, however, still more nutritious and beneficial than regular pasta.
How to Reduce Unhealthy Flours?
The best way to cut down on unhealthy flours is to replace the type of food you buy. If pasta is your favourite carbohydrate, use a whole grain version as opposed to the refined version. The same applies to white bread and white rice; slowly and gradually replace these foods with their whole-grain versions.
There are many alternatives out there and may take some time to include within your diet, look out for many different flours in the market such as oat flour or buckwheat flour that is usually found in many local stores near you. Use rice flour for your baking needs or as alternatives from unhealthy flours.
Start with once a week, build your taste, and then increase the usage.
Whole grains are a far more beneficial and healthy option to have in your diet than refined and processed flours and grains. They are filling, nutritious, and have been proven to reduce the risk of illnesses like diabetes type 2 and heart disease.
With the growth of the health food industry, whole grains are becoming widely available, so you have no reason not to make the switch.
Thank you for reading and if you do have any questions or comments, please leave below and I’ll be sure to help you out:)