Cage Match: Grain on Grain
Forming the foundation of the food pyramid, grains make up a substantial portion of a healthy, balanced diet. There is a veritable cornucopia of grains and grain-based products available for your consumptions, but which to choose? Are all grains created equal? One way to find out: set ‘em up head-to-head and let ‘em claw it out for ultimate supremacy!
Whole Grains vs. Processed Grains
A grain seed is comprised of three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. The bran is the outer edge of the seed and contains most of the grain’s fiber. The endosperm makes up most of the grain’s mass. Sometimes it is referred to as the kernel. The germ is the part of the seed from which new plants sprout. The germ contains most of the grain’s nutrients.
That brings us to the difference between whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains are grains as Nature intended them: the whole seed with all its layers. A whole grain seed will sprout if planted. Refined grains lack the bran and the germ, which are removed during the course of processing. Whole grains contain the entirety of the seed’s nutritional value. Refined grains lack the nutritional value of whole grains, but they have a finer texture and last longer on store shelves.
Whole Grain Goodness
Refined grains can be found in everything from cereals to grits to white bread. But since we’ve established that whole grains are better for your health, let’s shift the spotlight their way. Here’s a quick list of whole grains and their health benefits:
- Wheat Grains – Rich in carbohydrates, which are needed for energy.
- Oats – Rich in carbohydrates and promote heart health.
- Rye – A good source of dietary fiber.
- Barley – Contains essential amino acids, helps to regulate blood glucose, can be a good coffee substitute.
- Corn/Maize – Good source of Vitamins B1, B5, C, and E. Good for kidneys and renal system.
- Brown Rice – Helps regulate cholesterol level, a good source of fiber.