Grains are an important component of most people’s diet. All grains start out as “whole grains,” but processing often changes grain products, resulting in foods that don’t have the nutritional value they once had.
Whole grains are made up of three main edible parts, says the Whole Grain Council. This includes the bran, seed and endosperm. The bran is the multi-layered outer shell of the edible kernel of the grain. The germ is the embryo that can germinate into a new plant. The endosperm is the source of food and energy for germs. The endosperm is the largest component of the grain kernel and contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of minerals and vitamins. Conversely, the bran contains fiber and B vitamins, while the germ contains healthy fats, proteins, and many B vitamins and minerals.
During the refining process, the bran and seed are usually stripped. This greatly reduces the nutritional profile of the kernels, removing protein and essential nutrients. Some can be restored by enriching refined grains, but refined products cannot compete with the health efficacy of whole grains.
Whole grains are preferential for a variety of reasons.
• Whole grains contain fiber, which is known to help control blood sugar and reduce LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Oats, bulgur, and barley contain the most fiber.
• Lactic acid, which activates the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, can be found in whole grains. These bacteria can improve digestion and promote better nutrient absorption, advises Health Journal.
• Whole grains may help a person feel full. This can reduce overeating and help control weight.
• Health experts say that eating whole grains can reduce belly fat, also known as “central obesity.” This is important to reduce the risk of diabetes and other health issues.
These are just some of the reasons to choose whole grains over refined and processed grains. Whole grains should provide the majority of grains in a person’s diet.