Whole Grains: friend or FOE?
Benefits of Whole Grains
Grains are often believed to make us gain weight. This is often true for simple carbs, like refined grains and sugars. Simple carbs are quick to get digested in our intestines (due to very low fiber content), therefore spiking blood sugar and making us hungry shortly after a meal. That usually results in consuming more calories, and therefore inevitably causes weight gain.
The evil reputation of grains overall, however, may be exaggerated. Opposed to refined grains, whole grains can bring lots of benefits to the body. How are whole grains different from refined grains? Whole grains mean way less processing than refined grains and leaving the outer layer of grains intact.
Why is it important? That outer layer usually carries most of the nutrients: fiber, vitamins, and minerals. For example, vitamin B. Lack of this vitamin due to the refining of rice caused a disease called beriberi, which took away the lives of millions in the nineteenth century.
What else is so beneficial in whole grains? They are a rich source of fiber, as well as many more vitamins and minerals. Regular consumption of whole grains has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and obesity.
Some of my favorite whole grain products include whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, popcorn, barley, brown rice, wild rice, and oats.
Dr. Greger suggests in his famous book ‘How Not to Die’ to use a five-to-one rule as guidance to distinguish whole grains from marketing distractions on a package. Just take a peek at the nutritional value and calculate carbs to fiber ratio. If it’s anything higher than 5, it’s not a wholesome product. For example, 15g carbs per 100g of product and 3g fiber ratio passes the ‘whole-grain’ test, but the 30g carb/3 g fiber ratio signifies that the product is way too far from being whole grain.
To sum it all up, no need to restrain yourself from adding whole grains to your diet! Enjoy the delicious and filling meals you can make out of them and get healthier by day!
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