Whole grains

Whole grainsGrains are the seeds of plants, and whole grains consist of out of the bran, endosperm and germ. The bran is the outer layer of the seed and contains fibre, B vitamins, minerals and fyto-nutrients. The endosperm is the bulk of the seed and contains the starches and proteins, as well as some B vitamins. The germ is the part which produces the sprout and contains B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals, fats and fyto-nutrients. Refined grains like white flour or white rice only consists of the endosperm and loses up to 80% of its nutritional value.

Less processed is always better but it’s not necessary to be too strict. If your generally healthy and don’t have a sedentary lifestyle you should be able to handle some refined grains. If we look at Asia for example, there are a few billion people living on a traditional diet based on white rice, and they maintain their health pretty well. You can offset the negative effects of refined grains by combining them in a meal with some fiber rich produce, like beans.

Whole grains as the main part of your meal will ensure that you won’t eat too much. The high fiber content will fill up your stomach and makes it self-limiting. Starches only contribute 1 calorie per gram opposed to fat, which contains 9 calories per gram and adds no bulk.

wholegrain breadMilled grains are mostly used to make bread. Bread can be made with only four ingredients, wheat flour, water, yeast and some salt. The milling of whole grains to make flour increases the calories almost threefold and all other nutrients go down. White flour has the fibrous bran removed, which contains hardly any calories but lots of nutrients. By removing the fibers, the sugars in the wheat starch get easier and faster for the body to absorb. As a result, it will disturb your blood sugar levels in a similar way sugar does. White flour bakes into softer and lighter loaves, but these are nutritionally deficient.

The most expensive ingredient of bread is the time it takes to make a proper bread. Commercial bakery’s speed up the bread making process by using all kinds of additives like stabilizers, dough conditioners, bleaching agents and other chemicals. For some breads, they add back broken pieces of the whole grains, listed in the ingredients as wheat bran or cracked wheat. This gives white bread the appearance of a healthy whole wheat bread, but these breads affect your blood sugar pretty much in the same way as white bread.

Always look for 100% whole wheat on the label and choose the loaves with the least additives, and the best thing is off course to make your own.

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