The Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains provide many essential nutrients and necessary fiber to our diets. According to the American Institute for cancer research, the term “whole grain” means that all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. Refined grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer.
Try to always eat whole grain products and avoid breads and baked goods mad with white flour. During the refining process of white flour, the majority of the minerals and vitamins are removed. What’s left behind behaves like sugar in your body. Baked goods made with white flour cause blood glucose disturbances and sugar cravings. It’s a vicious cycle…the more sugar you eat, the more you want. Meanwhile your insulin levels rise.
I use whole wheat, oat, or brown rice flour when baking, and also substitute coconut flour in place of ¼ of the flour. Coconut flour is a low-carbohydrate alternative to wheat flour, it’s high in fiber and low in sugar and carbohydrates. I use it with brown rice and oat flours when I want to make muffins or banana bread that’s gluten free. Red Mill also makes an organic, gluten-free baking mix made of bean and tapioca flours.
When buying bread, look for brands that do not use high fructose corn syrup and specifically say 100% whole grain. I have also tried the Ezekiel brand of sprouted grain products. They make breads, English muffins and rolls which are quite delicious. These products are made with sprouted grains and are higher in fiber and nutrients than wholegrain bread.
Some of the Benefits of Sprouted Grains:
When grains, seeds and nuts are germinated, their nutritional content changes and, as they are generally not cooked, they retain their natural plant enzymes. These enzymes are beneficial for helping the digestion of seeds and nuts in the digestive tract. As well as retaining the enzymes, they also retain the nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by cooking. Sprouted grains, seeds and nuts also encourage the growth of good bacteria, help to keep the colon clean, and are high in protective antioxidants.
Sprouted grain breads are significantly higher in protein, vitamins and enzymes, and the complex starches are converted into natural sugars. They are also low GI (Glycemic Index), so they are digested more slowly by the body. The glycemic index of a food is the measurement of the glucose (blood sugar) level increase from carbohydrate consumption With a low GI, sprouted grain products keep the blood sugar levels stable for longer, making people feel more satisfied and therefore less prone to snacking. It’s interesting to note that the more highly processed a food is, the higher GI it is. A loaf of white bread is significantly higher GI than a loaf of sprouted grain bread.