While many of us were raised on refined (white) bread, rice, and pasta, whole grains are an important consideration when it comes to getting balanced nutrition. So, what exactly is so great about whole grains?
Whole Grain vs. Processed Grains
What makes whole grains better than refined (aka, processed) grains? Whole grains are linked to lowering the risk of disease. In fact, numerous studies have shown that consuming whole grains can significantly reduce your chances of a stroke, Type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Don’t Refined Grains Have Benefits Too?
You might be thinking–“refined grains must have some nutritional value, don’t they?”–that’s where things get a little complicated. During the refining process, the nutritional value of the grain is affected. Much of the dietary fiber content (which contributes to healthy weight management and disease-fighting benefits) is stripped away during processing. Some of these nutrients are added back in, but since the grain is no longer intact, you’re not getting the same spectrum of benefits you would have if you had consumed the whole grain. In a whole grain, the phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber are working together as intended. Compared to white flour, most whole grain flours contain more folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B1, B3 (niacin) and B5 (pantothenic acid). So, in short, you may not get the same amount of benefits when eating refined grains as you would eating whole grains.
How Do They Taste?
As someone who spent most of my young life eating white rice and pasta, I can honestly say that transitioning to whole grain varieties wasn’t easy in the beginning–but that was just because I wasn’t used to their hearty flavor. Since I’ve made the switch to mainly whole grain products, I appreciate their taste much more now, and knowing the health benefits is a major motivator.
If you’re unsure whether you can embrace whole grains, try incorporating them into your meals gradually. Performance Kitchen has made this easy with a variety of delicious meals. They’re easy to spot because they have the official Whole Grain Stamp on the box.