The Food Pyramid says eat more whole grains; If you eat cereal, bread, pasta, or rice, keep reading to see what nutrients you may be missing.
The whole grain has all the nutrients God put into grains: fiber, protein, healthy fats, and lots of vitamins and minerals. The straight starch in white flour, in the absence of the whole, is uickly turned into simple sugars in your body.
This has two effects: Spikes your blood sugar and is easily turned into fat for storage.
What is a Whole Grain?
A kernel of grain has three parts: endosperm, germ, and bran. This applies to all grains, like rice, oats, wheat, barley and more.
The endosperm contains Carbohydrates, Protein, A few vitamins
The germ contains B & E vitamins, Antioxidants, Mostly polyunsaturated fats, Lots of folic acid (important for pregnancy), Iron, zinc and other minerals
The bran contains main source of the grain’s fiber, most phytonutrients and minerals, antioxidants, phytates.
You can buy wheat bran. You can buy wheat germ. (Health food folks like to do this.) You can buy wheat endosperm. It’s called “white flour”. (Processed food companies like to do this.)
Because of its oils, the wheat germ is likely to go rancid quickly. In order to extend the shelf life, as with trans fats, food manufacturers strip off the germ and the bran so that the remaining endosperm, although lacking in nutrition, can sit around for a long time and wait for people to consume it. If only it was worth consuming!
Grains are delicious in all their slightly sweet, grainy goodness. Still, there’s little reason to incorporate them into the diet on a regular basis with the exception of one: personal preference. Here’s a little food for thought: there’s no vitamin or mineral you can get from grain that you can’t get in better quantities elsewhere.
So let’s take a look: The big heroes of most grains’ nutrient profile are dietary fiber and B vitamins. If you can find the nutrient in grain, you can find the nutrient in better quantities in other foods. For example, 100 grams of whole wheat flour contains 44 mcg of folate; however, a 100-gram portion of yardlong beans will give you a whopping 658 mcg per 100-gram portion. Similarly with the B Vitamins niacin and thiamin, while a 100-gram whole wheat flour contains 30% of the RDA for niacin and thiamin, you can find these nutrients in higher quantities in other foods – namely flaxseeds and sesame seeds. Whole grains are often touted as health foods for their fiber content, but you can find dietary fiber in better quantities in other, more nutrient-dense foods. For example: 100 grams of cooked brown rice offers up 1.8 grams of dietary fiber; by contrast, a 100-gram serving of cooked collard greens offers 2.8 grams; Even green peas contain about 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Intestinal health is critical to your overall health. If you’re gut isn’t healthy, you can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. If you can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, your body is malnourished and is more prone to disease. Grains are associated with a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Tiny particles of grains, when ingested, can slip through the intestinal walls causing an immune response. With your immune system excessively taxed by constantly attacking these out-of-place particles of grain, it cannot effectively fight against true threats like pathogens.
You’re probably gluten-intolerant.
Some researchers on celiac disease and gluten intolerance estimate that 30% to 40% of people of European descent are gluten-intolerant to some degree. That’s a lot of people who are regularly consuming a food that makes them sick.
Grains cause inflammation.
Due to a high starch content, grains are inflammatory foods. The more refined the grain, the more inflammatory it is. For example, unbleached white flour is more inflammatory than whole grain flour; however, whole grains are still moderately inflammatory foods and certainly more inflammatory than other foods like fresh vegetables and wholesome fats. Chronic inflammation is linked to a myriad of degenerative, modern diseases including arthritis, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, bone loss, emotional imbalance and even cancer. Unbleached white flour earns an inflammation factor of -421 or strongly inflammatory on NutritionData.com while whole wheat flour has 247; Similarly, whole cooked millet earns an inflammation factor of -150 and cooked brown rice earns an inflammation factor of -143 – also moderately inflammatory.
Grains aren’t good for your joints.
Due to their inflammatory nature, grains – even whole grains – are linked to joint pain and arthritis. Because both synovial tissue and grains are chemically similar, your body has difficulty differentiating between the two. So, when your immune cells get all hot and bothered by inflammation caused by grain and begin to attack it as a foreign invader, they also begin to attack the soft tissue in your joint since the grain’s– amino -acid composition mirrors that of the soft tissue in your joints leading to pain, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and, of course, more inflammation.
Grains are fairly new on the scene.
While still a traditional food, grains are, nonetheless, the new kids on the block. Prior to the advent of agriculture, humans relied on hunting and gathering for their foods. They foraged for wild greens, berries, fruits and other plants. They hunted wild animals. They fished for wild fish. They didn’t plant a garden, or grow any amber waves of grain or, for that matter, drink dairy from domesticated animals since there simply wasn’t any domesticated animals. Humans survived like this from the development of the appearance of the first homo sapiens about 47,000 years ago to the advent of agriculture some 10 – 12,000 years ago. So, for the better part of human existence grains did not comprise any notable portion of the human diet. In essence, what has become the bulk of our modern diet was missing from the diet of our prehistoric ancestors.
Poorly Prepared Grains prevent mineral absorption.
When improperly prepared as they most often are, grains can inhibit vitamin and mineral absorption. Grains contain substances like phytic acid which binds up minerals and prevents proper absorption. Essentially, though your diet might be rich in iron, calcium and other vital nutrients if you eat improperly prepared grain, you’re not fully absorbing nutrients from the foods you eat. However, please note that souring, sprouting and soaking grains neutralizes phytates and renders the nutrients in grain more absorbable. Read later why sprouted grains are better.
Grains aren’t good for your skin either.
Grains have a very high carbohydrate content, and while the carbohydrates in grain are complex they are still broken down into sugars nonetheless. These sugars instruct your body to produce more insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IFG-1). Elevated insulin levels lead to a cascading hormonal response and these hormones activate the sebum-producing glands in your skin – encouraging them to produce more oil which leads to acne.
Eating grain makes you crave grain.
Since grains break down into sugar, they create a rise in insulin levels when those levels fall you crave more grains and, thus, the vicious cycle continues.
Choose grains and make sure you eat them sprouted, soaked or soured.
The Possible Dangers of Eating Whole Grains
The phytates in the bran and the fats in the germ can cause some unique problems for those of us trying to follow recommendations and increase our whole grain consumption.
1.Phytates are largely an anti-nutrient, which means they do more to take nutrients from our bodies than share them. When we eat grains with the bran intact, the phytates bind to minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus so that our systems can’t make use of them. We’re paying a premium
2.Rancid oils are damaging to our health, and certain processes cause the oils in the whole grain germ to become oxidized and/or rancid, even if we can’t taste it.
Thus they are not the easy health food, even in whole form
Why We Should Avoid Whole Grain Breakfast Cereals
Almost all breakfast cereals are made by a process called extrusion. Whole puffed grains (think rice cereal, corn pops, etc) are prepared for processing, then placed inside a huge vat, where the pressure is increased to a certain point.
When the pressure is released, the grains literally explode upward – POP! – and puff out to the shape you see in your cereal bowl. Think popcorn, flakes, industrial-style. The calculated pressure gives a more uniform shape to the grains.
The ingredients are mixed together to make a cereal “dough”.This “dough” passes down a chamber, much like that of a gun, and as it is heated to “bake” it, When using whole grains, the delicate fats and Vitamin E in the germ are damaged.
The Bottom Line on Whole Grains
White flour and refined grains have almost no nutritional value, but they will fill you up, and they’re cheap.
Whole grains have potential for nutritional value, but they may have some drawbacks, and they’re expensive in comparison.
However, whole grains must trump processed grains if only because they are metabolized more slowly and give at least a bit of protein and fat to help your body deal with the starches.
Research may show that the process of soaking grains can also improve their nutrient profile.
Hungry? Some soaked grain recipes please!