Whole Grain As a Healthy Snack

It is the year 2012 in any of the highly industrialized countries of the world. Two long time girl friends are meeting for lunch at a local bar and grill restaurant having not seen each other for years. After long hugs, they are shown to their table. Both are 45 years old, married and the mothers of teenage children. As they are lead to their table, they both walk slowly and stiffly behind the hostess due to excessive weight gain. While seating them, the hostess notices how they struggle to slide into the booth. They reach for their menus with swollen, puffy hands.

As their sugary soft drinks are delivered, they begin talking about old times, families and how badly they both feel all the time. Their doctors just give them medications that dont seem to help matters. When their meals of double burgers on enriched white buns smothered in a creamy cheese sauce are delivered, they are eagerly devoured. Heaping orders of French fries are also on their plates. Dessert consisting of cheese cake with strawberry sauce and whipped cream is not far behind and is equally relished and devoured.

We are alive, yet the majority of us are eating food that is dead. It fills the stomach, but it has little or no nutritional value. Grains are no exception.

whole grains

Brief History of Grains

Grains have been eaten for thousands of years, and we are still eating them today. The Romans began milling whole grain around 350 B.C. This process gave whole grain a finer texture and a lighter colouring. It was a status symbol for the elite Romans to consume this kind of bread. The common people had to be content with the coarse, unrefined bread. As time marched on to the 1800s, the milling processes advanced to the point where this refined bread became available to everyone. As more technological advances were made after World War II, the whole grain was processed to the point where the whole grains eaten in the 20th century bore little resemblance to what the Romans milled thousands of years before.

What are Whole Grains?

The healthiest grains are whole grains. How do they become whole? In their natural state, whole grains have three parts. They are the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the multi-layered and fibre rich outer portion. The germ is the inner portion where you can find healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein. The endosperm is the largest middle part containing small amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and starchy carbohydrates.

What is the Milling Process?

This is the process which strips the bran and germ from the grain.
What you have left is the endosperm.

Types of Grains

When it comes to grains, they are not all equal. Whole grains are unrefined. Their bran and germ are intact. Because of this, their nutrient content is very high. Refined grains have been milled. The bran and germ have been stripped from them leaving very little if any nutrients. There is no fibre at all. Enriched grains have also been milled, but some of the lost nutrients have been replaced. The packaging lists the vitamins and minerals contained in these enriched grains.

Common Whole Grains

They are popcorn, bulgur, barley, wheat, whole oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole wheat, brown rice, and wild rice.

Not So Common Grains

They are millet, amaranth, triticale, and quinoa.

Benefits of Whole Grains

Because whole grains contain the bran, germ and endosperm, they are loaded with nutrients such as antioxidants, B vitamins, Vitamin E, iron, magnesium, proteins, and fibre. Consumption of whole grains has been known to decrease heart problems, cancers, blood pressure problems, diabetes, and cholesterol levels. We cannot overlook the fact that whole grains are also low in fat and contain complex carbohydrates.

How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet?

1) Grab some popcorn instead of sodium filled, greasy chips.
2) Substitute a slice of whole grain bread instead of white bread.
3) Replace white rice with brown rice in a casserole dish.
4) Try whole grain cereal for breakfast or as a quick snack.

There are countless easy recipes to use for your meal plans, but what is most important is to read the labels on food packaging. If it does not say whole grain, it isnt whole grain. Do not be mislead by the colouring. Dark brown colouring is often added to bread to make it more appealing.

It is the year 2020 in one of the industrialized countries around the world. A young, health conscious wife and mother stands in her kitchen preparing for her monthly weekend cook-a-thon. Her bake pans and other equipment are sitting on the table. She thinks to herself, “I’ll prepare four loaves of whole grain bread and one pan of whole grain cookies.” “For our movie tonight, I’ll fix some popcorn, add lemon pepper and a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.” “I think we will all enjoy that.”

Do I Eat Enough Whole Grains?

If you’ve turned on the television, strolled the aisles at your local supermarket or opened a magazine recently, you’ve no doubt heard of whole grains. You probably even know that they’re good for your health and that you should be eating them. But how much do you really know about what constitutes a whole grain, why whole grains are good for you, how much of them you should eat, and the easiest ways to incorporate whole grains into your diet?

Those questions may sound complex, but whole grains really aren’t that mysterious. Including them in your diet doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, either. Read on for the basics on whole grains and some simple ways to eat them.

Whole grains are simply unprocessed grains, such as oats, whole wheat, barley, buckwheat, rye and brown rice, among others. If something is a whole grain, it includes the entire kernel of grain, including the hull, bran and germ, with nothing processed out.

Whole grains can be eaten on their own, as in the case of brown rice or bulgur, or incorporated into food products such as whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta or bran flakes cereal. Nowadays, many food manufacturers are climbing on the nutrition bandwagon and reformulating their products to be made from whole-wheat flour rather than white flour, or introducing entirely new products that tout the whole-grain label. You can find many whole-grain foods these days by just examining the labels on the foods you buy at the grocery store. If they don’t advertise their whole-grain status, you can always check the ingredients list to make sure that “whole-wheat” or “whole grain” is the first ingredient listed.

So why are whole grains so important and nutritious? Because whole grains contain every part of the natural grain kernel, they provide far more fibre than processed grains. Processed grains like white rice and white flour, as well as foods made with processed grains such as white bread, most cookies and pastries, certain cereals, white flour tortillas and regular pasta, are refined into “white foods” that provide quick energy but few nutrients. These foods make your blood sugar and insulin levels spike, which ultimately is detrimental to your entire bodyespecially your weight and your body’s long-term ability to regulate your blood sugar.

On the other hand, the more constitutionally complex whole grains contain important plant ingredients that provide sustained energy, keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check, help you feel full for a longer time so you are less likely to overeat, help regulate weight and even lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. With all these advantages going for them, it’s easy to see why whole grains are so important to your health.

How much whole grain should you be eating each day? In general, the problem isn’t that we’re not eating enough grains; think of all the cereal, bread, crackers and pasta most of us consume in our regular diets. Instead, the issue is that most people’s grain choices are refined, white versions. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, people should choose whole grains for at least half of the grains they eat each day. In other words, you don’t have to eat only wheat pasta, rye bread and brown rice for the rest of your life; however, you should definitely make those types of choices more often than you choose white bread and saltine crackers, for example.

Are you wondering how on earth to incorporate all these wholegrains into your daily meals and snacks? First of all, begin slowly. Work on gradually replacing some of your processed grains with whole grains, and give yourself time to get used to the heartier texture and taste. The easiest way to start adding whole grains to your diet is to simply swap out the white version for the whole grain version. In other words, if you’re used to a slice of white bread toast every morning for breakfast, make it whole-wheat bread from now on. If you generally eat white pasta when you make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, pick the box of whole-grain spaghetti next time. If your first instinct at snack time is processed crackers or cookies, consider popcorn or whole-wheat pretzels instead. There are so many ways to effortlessly incorporate whole grains into your diet. The list goes on and on!

Once you’ve become comfortable with these simple swaps and substitutions, you can branch out to recipes that are specifically designed around particular whole grains. Many current cookbooks, especially but not only vegetarian cookbooks, offer recipes for entrees, soups, salads and baked goods that call for grains like bulgur, barley, quinoa and other whole grains with which you may not be quite so familiar. Some examples are a Middle Eastern bulgur-based salad called tabbouleh, casseroles based on brown rice, corn-tortilla Mexican foods and beef-barley soup. Recipes like these can help you widen your food horizons and discover other whole grains you may truly enjoy.

Many people find that, once they’ve made the switch to more whole grain foods, they actually start to prefer the heartier texture and richer, nuttier taste of whole grains over the processed taste and texture of white flour and other refined-grain foods. Give it a try; you may find yourself feeling the same way. At any rate, including more whole grains into your diet will definitely benefit your health, which in turn will make you feel good about your food choices.