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Why You Should Choose Whole Grains — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 22, 2008 at 3:41 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Why You Should Choose Whole Grains


We all know we're supposed to eat more whole grains, but few of us actually do. Why do we avoid them? Whole grain products today are not the flavorless, dry products our parents used to feed us. Today you can find a huge variety of whole grain products and inventive, delicious ways of preparing them.

Why You Should Choose Whole Grains

They taste good, for starters. Really, and they're even better for your body. While refined grains we find in most breads, crackers, bagels and any other grain-based product are virtually devoid of nutrition and vitamins, whole grain products are chock full of healthy stuff. If that doesn't convince you, how about this: over twenty-five recent studies have all shown the same benefits of increasing amounts of whole grains in the diet. Those who eat 2.5 servings of whole grains each day are 21% less likely to have any sort of heart disease. Whole grains can also reduce your total overall mortality rate by 15%. That means those who regularly eat whole grain foods are 15% less likely to die of any cause than those who do not. This may not be due specifically to whole grains alone, but to an overall healthier lifestyle.

Whole versus Refined Grains

Refined grains are the grains in most of our foods; they're what we think of as white flour. Almost every grain based food in your supermarket is made of white flour. A whole grain consists of bran, which is the outer coating; germ, which is the innermost part of the grain that sprouts new plants; and the endosperm or kernel, which makes up the bulk of the seed. While the germ and bran are loaded with nutrients, the endosperm has very little vitamins or minerals. When you consume a product made with refined grains, think of it as empty calories; this helps to switch over to whole grains. The process of refining involves removing the bran and the germ from a grain, leaving the endosperm. This allows the product to last longer, but also leaves it completely empty of nutrients. While the U.S. adds in some extra nutrients to white flour, the flour still loses the bulk of its vitamins through refinement.

Be Label Savvy

When shopping for a whole grain product, you have to be label savvy. Those labels try to trick us into thinking a product contains whole grains by using the phrases multi-grain, stone ground, 100% wheat, etc. The only way to determine if a product contains whole grains is to check the label. The first or second ingredient should include the word "whole" followed by a grain (wheat, rye, cornmeal, etc). Check the other ingredients as well. Skip products that contain partially hydrogenated oils, as those clog your arteries. Choose products low in sugar, and look for ones that contain natural sugars like molasses or honey. Avoid the high fructose corn syrup as well. Whole grains can be as good tasting as they are good for your body. You may need to try a few products before finding one you like. Try new recipes as well, and challenge yourself to include whole grains in your daily intake.


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