There are a lot of different grains out there and chances are that you already eat your fair share of them in your diet. At the same time however the average person doesn’t get enough whole grains in their system throughout the day!
You should try to aim for about half your daily grain intake throughout the day to be whole grains, that way you will receive the adequate nutrients that your body needs. Basically put grains are the seeds of grasses that are used in the cultivation of foods.
Types of grains
1. Whole grains. This type of grain hasn’t been through the refining process and therefore still retains its ‘germ’ and all its nutrients remain present. Also, because it has not been through the refining process it is a better source of fibre and other important nutrients! Whole grains are usually single foods such as brown rice and ingredients of food like whole wheat in bread.
2. Refined grains. These are grains that have been through the refining process and therefore have less fibre and nutrients than their whole grain counter-parts. Because they are refined they are finer in texture and have a longer shelf life, but won’t keep you as full as whole grains.
3. Enriched grains. These have been through the refinement process but have then had extra nutrients added back to them at a later stage! Like refined grains, enriched grains also have added nutrients that don’t naturally occur in them. However, despite the effort to add nutrients, many of the nutrients that are lost during refinement can never be replaced.
Types of whole grains
• Brown rice
• Bulgur (cracked wheat)
• Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
• Wild rice
It is usually difficult to tell the difference between unrefined grains and refined grains because of added colouring. The best way to tell the difference is look for the word whole on the packaging.
How to add whole grains to your diet
1. Eat breakfast that includes whole grains
2. Eat whole wheat toast
3. Rather have sandwiches using whole grain bread
4. Replace white rice with brown rice
Whole grains and weight loss
If you are trying to lose a bit of weight, whole grain foods are a great place to start! Losing weight can be done in many ways but one way is all about consuming less-calories while staying fuller for longer. The concept is called energy density.
Basically, energy density is about rather consuming certain foods over others because they have fewer calories in them for example:
• A cup of grapes has about 80 calories which gives it a low energy density rating.
• A cup of raisins has about 450 calories giving it a high energy density rating.
So it is not necessary to cut certain foods out altogether, rather by being aware of their energy density you can consume less.
At the end of the day, it isn’t necessary to cut out refined grains altogether, rather try have a good mix of both the refined and whole grains to ensure maximum nutrition. Also by having a mix of the two you will find that meals become more interesting with the different flavours!