Whole Grains

What are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and protein, which helps to keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day. Whole grains are also a great source of dietary fiber, which can help to keep your digestive system healthy. Eating whole grains can be beneficial in reducing your risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. They are also a great way to get a variety of nutrients without having to consume a lot of calories. By adding whole grains to your diet, you can reap the many health benefits they provide.

What are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are a type of grain that has all three of its original parts – the germ, bran, and endosperm – intact. These grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Examples of whole grains include oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, corn, sorghum, and millet. Eating whole grains can help reduce the risk of certain chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes and may be beneficial in other diseases as well.

Whole grains are staple food in almost every household around the world. Whole grains contain three parts and each section houses health-promoting nutrients. Let’s study in detail:

What is Bran in Whole Grains?

Bran is the outermost layer of a whole grain, like wheat, oats, or rice. It is full of essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber, which can help promote healthy digestion. Adding bran to your diet can help you get the nutrients you need while contributing to a healthy lifestyle.

It is the nutritious outer layer of the edible kernel. The bran is rich in fiber, B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc and antioxidants.

What is Germ in Whole Grains

Germ is the part of a grain that germinates and grows into a new plant. It is the embryo from which a new plant sprouts and contains most of the grain’s nutrients. In whole grains, the germ is rich in healthy fats, proteins, many B vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. It’s a great source of dietary fiber and is packed with nutrients that can benefit your health.

What is Endosperm in Whole Grains?

Endosperm is the innermost layer of a whole grain, providing the grain with energy and nutrition. It is the interior layer and the largest portion of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amount of vitamins and minerals.

During the refining process, both the healthy components; bran and germ are lost, which leads to the loss of healthy nutrients as well.

If we don’t want to lose these nutrients, then why do we refine whole grains?

There are two reasons, firstly refining improves the taste and texture of the grain. Refined grains lack bran and dietary fiber. They are rich in endosperm, which is the sweet-tasting, carbohydrate-rich portion of a whole grain.

Secondly, refining improves the shelf-life of the grain. Hence, you can store it for a longer period of time. Whole grains contain minute quantities of oil, which tend to become rancid quickly. Oil is lost during the process of refining; hence refined grains can be stored fresh for more time as compared to whole grains.

In other words, whole grains are wholesome foods, which provide essential nutrients and dietary fiber to the body, which are otherwise missing in refined grains.

Why Should You Eat Wholegrains?

  • Because whole grains are nutritious foods, they reduce the risk of developing various health conditions like high blood glucose levels, high blood pressure, altered lipid profile and they support healthy weight loss too. On the other hand, refined grains lack nutrients, hence excess consumption of refined grains for a longer period of time increases the risk of these health conditions.
  • Eating more whole grains is a great way to add more dietary fiber to your diet too.

Below mentioned is a list examples of whole grains and refined grains to help you know which grains to add to your diet.

Examples of whole grains include:

  • Whole wheat, including spelt and durum wheat
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Brown rice and wild rice
  • Jowar
  • Bajra
  • Ragi
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat

Examples of refined grains include:

  • Refined wheat flour
  • White rice
  • White poha
  • White rice puffs (kurmura or murmura)
  • Semolina
  • Pearled barley
  • Pearled millets

How Can you Identify a Whole Grain Food Product?

  • These days various food markets are trying to replace refined grain products with whole grain products. Though whole grain products go through some processing, but they still have most of the nutrients intact.
  • You can easily identify a whole grain food by checking the ‘food ingredient list’ mentioned on the food product. For example, millet noodles.
  • Look for food products with the word ‘whole’ in front of the product name. For example, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread.

As whole grains are a staple food of our country and it accounts for a major part of the diet, it is important to choose your grains wisely. Eat 3 to 5 servings of healthy whole grains daily and ditch the refined grains.

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Sneha Sadhwani

Dt. Sneha Sadhwani Sewlani (B.Sc. Food Science & Nutrition, PG in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics) is Clinical Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Lifestyle Coach. She has expertise in clinical nutrition and 4 years’ experience working as Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician. She has been associated as a nutritionist with LTMG Hospital and S. L. Raheja Fortis Institute in Mumbai.She has also her own private practice where she offers a wide range of different programs, including weight loss, weight gain, diabetes management, diet plan according to diseases and much more through her in-person and online consultation.Sneha strongly believes that a healthy diet and lifestyle modifications are the best ways to prevent and treat diseases. She says, “Eating healthy is an art, be an artist of your own mind and body”.
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