A Nutritionist’s Take on Whole Grains

What Are Whole Grains? #


A grain can be called a whole grain when it still contains its original composition of a bran, germ, and endosperm. It can be processed in terms of rolled, cracked, or cooked, but still needs to have the word ‘whole’ in the ingredients.

How do You Know if You’re Buying Whole Grains? #

Marketing can be tricky and buying breads or cereals maybe confusing because the front of the package sometimes contains misleading terms. Only buy a product that has the first ingredient listed as whole grain (the first word must be whole). Whole grains are grasses or seeds and can be classified as either pseudocereals or cereals. Pseudocereals are non-grasses and their seeds are used. Some pseudocereals are amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. Cereals are grasses and include oat, rice, corn, and wheat.

Whole Grains and Refined Grains… Really, What’s the Difference? #

The refining process removes the outer bran and inner germ leaving the endosperm. Therefore, insoluble fiber (bran) and soluble fiber (germ) are lost along with vitamins, minerals, and many phytochemicals. White flour is only made of the endosperm which is mostly starch. Shifting away from refined grains and incorporating at least 3 servings of whole grains into your daily diet can increase your health. However, it is important to get a food sensitivity test and determine if you have any negative reactions to grains. There are many great grains available so eliminating one or two still leaves you with plenty of tasty options.

More on Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains: #

  • Whole grains have 80% more fiber than refined (processed) grains
  • Processed wheat loses 93% of its ferulic acid and 79% of its flavonoid content (both may lower cancer risk)
  • Whole grains contain plant sterols and stanols that lower cholesterol by inhibiting the absorption and increasing the excretion of cholesterol
  • Whole grains have prebiotic effects within the gastrointestinal tract that can boost immune support and reduce inflammation
  • Whole grains contain phytochemicals that can protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Whole grains can also reduce subcutaneous (below skin) and visceral (around organs) fat
  • Oats, buckwheat, and quinoa can increase satiety (you remain full longer) while white bread is the least satisfying bread/grain
  • September is National Whole Grains month. Take a look around your grocery store and try to introduce a new whole grain to your family or switch one item from a refined grain to whole grain. Your body will thank you!

Do you want an unbiased take on your diet? Are you looking to eat healthier or lose weight and don’t know where to start? Call Human Health Specialists at (480) 883-7240 to schedule a consultation with a nutritionist in AZ. If you live in another state or are too busy to make it to the office, we also offer phone consultations.