What is a whole grain?
February 15th, 2021
We consider oats, wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice, sorghum, grasses and millet when unprocessed to be whole grains as long as they contain all of the original parts of the grain kernel.
Grains contain three parts: 1) germ; 2) endosperm; 3) bran
The germ is the plant embryo that contains many antioxidants and prevents the seed from being hurt by microorganisms. The endosperm is the starchy storage tissue that provides the energy for growth of the seed. The bran contains the fiber, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. We need all of it.
Initially based on whole grains, cereals have been a major source of energy in the American diet since Dr. Jackson made a product called granula in New York in 1863. Cereals had served us well in the early years as nature has given us a perfect food for energy, colonic health and growth. Where did it all go wrong?
When we started to grind the grain into a flour while simultaneously removing the nutritious bran and germ we caused a huge problem. The loss of the bran and germ allowed for better storage of the refined flour product but ushered in a period of nutritional loss. During the early years of refining grains there were outbreaks of vitamin deficiencies including beri-beri and pellagra for people that relied on flour based foods for calories and survival. These vitamin deficiency states brought about an era of fortifying flour with vitamins and minerals instead of undoing the initial problem.
Let us stop here. Why not add back the germ and bran and be happy again??? The simple answer was storage and money. Therefore, whole grains became refined flour and we went against nature and artificially thought that we can replace the problem with enrichment.
This worked to stop the vitamin deficiencies but did little to control the next set of issues to come, obesity and insulin resistance.
The importance of fiber, fatty acids and the synergy of the three components of the grain cannot be understated.
TAKE HOME POINT:
Reduce the consumption of refined flour based foods and increase whole grain foods. Eat oatmeal, barley, quinoa, stone ground wheat, etc… Avoid enriched refined flour. Live Well!!!