Choosing Healthy Grains
Grains often get a bad rap when it comes to healthy food choices, and that’s fair if you typically choose white bread, crackers, cereals, and pastries. However, whole grains offer plenty of health benefits and can be a crucial component of your healthy diet. Many Australians don’t eat enough whole grains and don’t understand the benefits they provide.
What are Whole Grains?
Grains are the edible seeds of members of the cereal grass family. Whole grains contain carbohydrates, fibre, protein, thiamine, iodine, and folate. They also have significant amounts of zinc, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin E3. Each grain has three parts: the bran, or the outer layer of the grain; the endosperm, which makes up the central part of the grain; and the germ, the smallest part of the grain located inside the endosperm. Whole grain foods include all three parts of the grain. Processed grains, on the other hand, contain only the endosperm, with the bran and the germ removed. This practice also removes many of the nutrients found in whole grains. Wheat, rice, oats, pasta, bread, and cereal are just a few of the delicious whole grain foods available to Australians.
Health Benefits of Whole Grains
When you include whole grains as a regular part of your diet, you provide yourself with several health benefits. First of all, whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, particularly oats and barley because these are high in soluble fibre. You can also minimise your risk of type 2 diabetes with whole grains. Finally, whole grains contribute to healthy weight maintenance because they are filling, satisfying, and contain significant amounts of fibre.
Making the Healthiest Choices
The best grains for you are the ones that have undergone the least amount of processing and have the fewest added ingredients. However, processing isn’t the only thing that affects a grain’s nutritional makeup. Different grains have different amounts of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. For instance, wheat naturally contains more selenium than many other grains, while rye is high in potassium and quinoa contains lots of folates and vitamin E. Therefore, the best way to get the most nutrients from your grains is to eat a wide variety.
The takeaway? Whole grains are healthy, tasty, and inexpensive. Include them in your diet on a daily basis to maintain a healthy weight and benefit from their superior nutrition.