Like many in my generation, for most of my life I only knew white rice. Although I heard about whole grains I did not incorporate them into my daily eating until I was learning about whole grains about eight years ago. At that time I decided to get tested for food sensitivities and found that I’m sensitive to gluten, the protein in whole grains including wheat, barley and rye. I stopped eating most food with gluten and now find that when I do eat gluten, I almost immediately get hives. Last year, I was also tested for celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition in which our body does not absorb nutrients. Fortunately, I do not have celiac disease. I’m glad that I’ve had these experiences as I can now share gluten-free eating with my clients and in my writing.
Why We Need Carbs
People are confused about carbs and about whole grains. Many diets are no carb or low carb, but in reality our bodies need about 40-50% carbs every day at every meal. The problem is that people eat low quality carbs, like cookies, cakes, crackers and bread. Other carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables are good for us.
- The body’s main source of fuel
- Easily used by the body for energy
- Needed for the central nervous system, kidneys, brain and muscles (including the heart) to function properly
- Stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy
- Vital to intestinal health and waste elimination
Anatomy of a Grain
Bran: The outer shell of grain which protects the seed. Contains fiber, B vitamins and minerals./p>
Germ: Nourishment for the seed. Contains B vitamins, minerals, vitamin E, and phytonutrients.
Endosperm: Energy for the seed. Contains carbohydrates, some protein and B vitamins.
What Makes a Grain a Whole Grain?
- It has not been processed (made into other food products like flour, cookies, bread or crackers)
- It is a whole food and includes the germ and bran
- It is considered a "good carb"
Refined grains: Grains or grain flours that have been significantly modified from their natural composition. Generally involves mechanical removal of bran and germ. Further refining includes mixing, and bleaching.
Enriched grains: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron are often added back to nutritionally enrich the product. Because the added nutrients represent a fraction of the nutrients removed, refined grains are considered nutritionally inferior to whole grains.
Why We Need Whole Grains
Be sure to consume whole grains. Do not eat grains processed or refined into bread, crackers or cereal. Whole grains have higher levels of nutrients than refined grains, and are protein-rich. Whole grains balance sugar highs and lows. Due to the fiber in whole grains, they digest slowly, and produce more stable blood sugar levels than refined, processed grains.
Health Benefits of Whole Grains
According to the Whole Grains Council (www.WholeGrainsCouncil.org) the benefits of whole grains most documented by studies include:
- Reduce stroke risk by 30-36%
- Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes risk by 21-30%
- Reduce heart disease risk by 25-28%
- Better weight maintenance
- Reduce risk of asthma
- Healthier blood pressure levels
- Healthier carotid arteries
- Reduce risk of inflammatory disease
- Lower risk of colorectal cancer
- Less gum disease and tooth loss
Whole Food S.O.U.L. Food Wednesday Action:
With our Whole Food S.O.U.L. blog we invite you to take action with your whole foods eating behavior.
Our Challenge for you this week is to buy a few whole grains and try the Organic Steel Cut Oats with Nuts & Seeds Recipe, experimenting with your favorite nuts and seeds. Come on over to Facebook and share your creations with us.
Our Whole Food / S.O.U.L Food Wednesday Recipe for the Week
Organic Steel Cut Oats with Nuts & Seeds
Steel cut oats make a quick, easy and good for you breakfast. This recipe is the perfect foundation for a breakfast whole grain. You can use any whole grain and add-in any nuts and seeds, and enjoy with all kinds of fruit.
- 1 cup organic steel cut oats
- 1/2 cup of your favorite organic nuts, seeds & berries (goji berries are great!)
- 2 1/4 cups water
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Organic apple
- Rinse steel cut oats in strainer several times
- Place in rice cooker
- Add nuts and seeds
- Add cinnamon, which is good for diabetes
- Add water
- Turn on rice cooker
- Oats will be ready when cooker turns off
- Enjoy with organic apples
Share your Organic Steel Cut Oats creations on Facebook:
About the Author Melanie Albert
Melanie Albert, nutrition and food expert, author and speaker, has been active in the integrative medicine and nutrition fields for over a decade. She is the founder & CEO of Experience Nutrition Group, LLC, whose mission is to improve the lives health and nutrition of the sports community, kids and corporations through food and lifestyle education.
Melanie is an instructor in Whole Foods Cooking, Holistic Nutrition (Conscious Eating) and Entrepreneurship at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe, AZ. She also teaches Intuitive Eating at Spirit of Yoga in Tempe, AZ. Melanie walks her talk and you can always find her at farmers' markets, in the kitchen experimenting, and practicing yoga.
You can get more recipes, nutrition and food tips from Melanie.
Visit her blog: www.9Ways90Days.wordpress.com
Visit her Facebook: www.facebook.com/9Ways90Days