Refined Grains vs. Whole Grains
Although refined and whole grains are part of the same food group, their nutritional values are anything but similar.
Refined grains are those that have had the bran and germ removed, which are the parts that include fiber and are the most nutrient dense. Most refined grains are enriched during processing, meaning that certain B vitamins and iron are added back into them, however, the fiber cannot be replaced.
Whole grains possess all three parts of the grain—the germ, bran and endosperm. They have higher amounts of nutrients and natural fiber, proving that they are the healthier choice to make.
Why does the industry refine grains?
It improves shelf life, gives them a finer texture and essentially makes them easier to eat. They have the tendency to sell better because the taste and texture of whole grains is not as palatable.
While refined grains may taste better, they shouldn’t replace healthier foods.
Eating too many of these processed foods can cause several problems in digestion and weight gain. Refined grains convert to sugar during digestion and thus contribute to weight gain. Certain chemicals are used in the making of these unhealthy foods—which can cause disease over time. Vitamins added back to them after processing are sometimes synthetic. This means that they are not the naturally occurring vitamins that the grain possessed before being processed.
Widely available in most grocery stores, refined grain products are hard to avoid. Most restaurants make their dishes with them because they are cheaper and easier to cook. This is an ongoing problem, especially for health-conscious individuals.
Examples of refined grains:
If any of these are included in a food label, it means the food is refined. Most baked goods, like cookies, cake, muffins and brownies are made with refined grain.
Examples of whole grains:
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
You can find whole grain alternatives for plenty of foods—and even though they may taste different, they are definitely better for your health.
Why Whole Grains?
Whole grains are an extremely important part of the human diet. They provide energy, maintain a healthy digestive system and aid weight loss.
Cereal, oatmeal, bread, brown rice, popcorn, crackers, pasta and granola bars are examples of foods that can be made with whole grains. It is recommended that the average person get 6 servings of whole grains a day. This is not hard to do, considering the several choices there are to make from the grain food group.