and Unrefined Grains
it comes to buying grain-based foods you'll find
there are two distinct categories: white and whole
grain (also known as "wholemeal"). White
pasta or whole grain pasta; white rice or brown
(whole grain) rice; and white bread or whole grain
bread are some examples.
What's the difference between white and whole
grain varieties? Well, whole grains are just thatthe
whole grain. An unrefined kernel of grain
is actually made up of three layers: the germ
(innermost layer), the endosperm (central core)
and the bran (protective outer layer). Refined
(white) grains, on the other hand, have had their
bran and germ removed in the refining process.
the germ and bran layers make up less than 20
percent of the actual volume of a kernel of grain,
two thirds of the fiber, and many of the vitamins
and minerals are located in these layers.
So nutritionally speaking, white grain products
are inferior to whole grain products. But does
this make white grain products unhealthy? Well,
think about it this way. If you took an apple
and peeled it, would the apple suddenly become
unhealthy? Sure, a peeled apple won't be as good
for you as an unpeeled apple because lots of fiber,
vitamins and minerals are stored in the skin of
the apple, but this doesn't make what's left unhealthy.
The same is true with grains. White grain foods
may not be as healthy for you as whole grain foods,
but they're certainly not an unhealthy food. What
is left when the germ and bran has been removed
is the endosperm, or central core of the grain,
which contains energy-giving carbohydrates as
well as protein and B vitamins. And the endosperm
still contains a third of the health-promoting
fiber found in a grain's kernel.
what about the rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin-spiking
effects of refined grain foods like white pasta
and rice? Actually, pasta is made from a special
type of wheat that has a dense compact structure
and is slowly converted to blood sugar, so it
doesnt have the insulin-spiking effect that
many people think. Rice, if its eaten by
itself, can have an impact on blood sugar and
insulin levels, but in Asian cultures rice is
eaten with other foods which digest slowly such
as fish and poultry, fibrous vegetables and healthy
fats such as peanut oil. This means the overall
meal doesnt cause a spike in insulin levels.
white grain products aren't bad for you at all
(unless they're combined with sugar or bad fats
or cooked with unhealthy ingredients). In fact,
in most parts of Asia and the Mediterranean white
rice and pasta have been more popular than whole
grain varieties for many generations.
At the same time, it's clear that whole grains
are very important because of the valuable nutrients
they provide. The solution? Eat regular pasta
and rice, and when it comes to breads and breakfast
cereals opt mostly for whole grain varieties.
This way you'll ensure you get a rich mix of nutrients.
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