Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whole Grains

First of all, whole grains are not a single food but a category that includes whole wheat bread, brown or wild rice, oatmeal, barley, popcorn, and cereal, and bread and crackers made from whole grains with no white flour. 

What makes a grain ''whole''? Simply the fact that the nutrient-rich bran, germ, and endosperm have not been milled out of the grain kernel. When any cereal grain, such as rice or wheat, is processed into white flour, the natural fiber, vitamins, and beneficial phytonutrients are sacrificed, turning an otherwise potent source of nutrients into a collection of empty calories. Worse, your bloodstream absorbs white flour so fast that your blood sugar levels first soar and then dive as the fat-producing insulin hormone rushes in as response.

Making whole grains a part of your life is one of the best things you can do to boost metabolism, smooth insulin release, and control blood sugar, not to mention lower your risk of diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Whole grains deliver lots of the best kinds of fiber. Fiber is our heart-healthy and weight-loss ally for its ability to slow cholesterol absorption and lower blood fat levels. 

Please remember that like olive oil whole grains are higher in calories, so you cannot eat unlimited amounts. However, also remember that anything made with refined grains can be made with whole grains - breads, cereals, pasta, crackers, you name it. And of course wheat, oats, and rice are only the best-known grains. There are others that might be new to you, such as bulgur, quinoa, buckwheat, soba noodles, and the different varieties of whole grain rice. 

The Shopping Tip:
Always look for "whole grain" or "whole wheat" as the first ingredient on a label of bread or pasta. Otherwise, the product could say "wheat" but not really include whole grains. 

From The Sonoma Diet by Dr. Connie Guttersen, R.D., PH.D.

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