A whole grain contains all parts of the grain; the endosperm, germ and bran. When grains are refined and milled they are stripped of their bran and germ, this depletes many active nutrients and constituents. Some sources of refined grains include white flour, processed cereals, crackers, pastries, white rice and white bread. Whole grains can be used in their natural state or other forms such as rolled, cracked, crushed or even ground into flour.
Types of whole grains:
- Amaranth* GF
- Brown rice GF
- Black rice GF
- Buckwheat* GF
- Millet GF
- Quinoa* GF
*Note: Amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa are not technically grains however they are included in the list because their preparation, use and nutritional profile are similar.
The whole grain offers a complete package of health benefits, unlike refined grains, which are stripped of valuable nutrients. The bran is the outer layer, rich in fibre and packed with B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, phytochemicals and antioxidants. The germ is the core, providing healthy fats, B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants and phytochemicals. The endosperm is the interior layer, holding carbohydrates, protein and small quantities of B vitamins and minerals.
The benefits of whole grains rather than refined: Whole grains contain many different nutrients that are linked with significant health benefits. They support digestive health by softening and bulking stools, better weight management, healthier blood cholesterol, healthier blood pressure and improvement of insulin sensitivity. Enjoying whole grains also reduces risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
Whole grains add a beautiful texture and flavour to your meals. Some excellent ways to include whole grains in your diet are to have them on the side of your stir-fry or curry, use them to make porridge or add them to a colourful salad.
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