Common folks like us have been consuming food that has been misleadingly referred to as whole grain on a daily basis – food such as bread, corn chips, cereals, pasta, muffins, rice cakes and so on. Kids simply can’t resist the wonderful free toys that are usually found in those boxed breakfast cereal. And what we (and often our parents too) do not realise is that these cereal are merely flour products, not ‘whole grains’ as advertised.
The (once) ‘whole grain’ that is in these cereal mix has actually been processed, transformed in particle-like substance and then into powdered form grain products. These powdered form of grains is recommended only as a minimum percentage of dietary grain products where they are less satisfying and would even cause blood sugar spike in certain individuals as they are absorbed rather quickly.
Same goes for a loaf of bread that reads “Made with 100% Whole Grain”. Really? While not completely false, it is not completely accurate either. Most of it is marketing gimmick to lull conumers into a false of sense of security. For starters, if we grind whole wheat and make bread from the resulting flour, we will have unrefined whole grain bread. But when we refine flour by taking out the bran, we end up with common white flour, from which we bake ordinary white bread (soft, white and fluffy, no doubt). Further refinement give us cake flour, which has even less nutritional value.
Aside from the obvious advantage of convenience, the most appealing factor about the most common types of grain products is their texture, which adds variety to our daily diet. But this comes with a heavy price as eating ground whole grains in the form of flour increases the available calories and the tendency to store fat because the fibre is removed during processing. This is because fibre contains virtually no calories and as such its removal increases calorie concentration.
Flour, specifically refined flour, causes a greater rise in blood insulin levels during digestion than do whole grains, which actually stabilises blood sugar.
Whole grains basically have 3 essential parts which are the bran, germ and endosperm.
Strictly speaking, to be classified as whole grain, the entire grain must still be intact, not just the endosperm, as opposed to refined grains.
Intact whole grains retains more nutional benefits than does processed grains. One of the primary benefits of whole grains is their high fibre content. A diet that is rich in fibre hs been proven to reduce certain cancers (especially colon cancer), combat diabetes, reduce digestive problems and even reverse heart disease. The rich balance of vitamins and minerals in whole grains helps the immune system to remain healthy and responsive.
There are more than a 100 versions of whole grains and the following are some of the more common ones :
The above list is certainly non-exhaustive but is mostly gluten-free. If one is concerned about the negative connotation of phytates (an antioxidant found in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds purported to indirectly cause mineral deficient and increased cellular acidity), grains such as brown rice can be soaked in water overnight to reduce phytates content by 30 to 40 percent.
Besides this, phytates can also be reduced by cooking, thorough chewing(thus introducing more alkalinity to food from saliva) and by adding moderate amount of sea salt. Anyway, if one is already eating a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables and sea plants, this more than enough minerals to render the phytate fear a non-issue.