The Whole Scoop on Whole Versus Refined Grains

IMAGE Are you hesitant about having that slice of bread, bowl of cereal, or plate of pasta? In an era of low carbohydrate diets and numerous warnings about the role of grains in weight gain, it is easy to see why. The good news is that there is only a grain of truth to the bad press about grains. What you need to do is cut back on refined grains and eat more whole grains. Here is why.

Crude Facts About Refined Grains

The grains that make up the typical American diet are highly refined. The refining process results in the loss of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. What this means is the most nutritious part of the grain is removed during the milling process. It also strips them of disease-fighting components like B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, selenium, and fiber. Examples of refined grain products include:
  • White breads
  • Baked goods (made with white flour)
  • White pasta
  • Crackers
  • White rice
  • Some cereals on the grocery shelf
Many refined grain products are enriched, which means that some of the nutrients such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and iron, are added back. However, enrichment does not restore important dietary fiber and other nutrients that are lost during the milling process.

Why Whole Grains Are More Wholesome

Whole grains are what they are called. They include all 3 parts that make up the entire grain: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Because they have not gone through the refining process, they are good sources of dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium. Whole grains can help with the following:

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