The history of whole grains dates back to around 12,000 years ago when humans first began to cultivate wheat. The ability of this whole food to stand the test of time is quite phenomenal if you ask me, but unfortunately, modern-day processes have made refined-grains much more popularized than whole grains. Through factory processing, these ancient cereals are stripped of their vital nutrients and made into unhealthy simple carbohydrates that fuel our world’s growing rates of diabetes and obesity. So it is important, more than ever, to embrace grains in their whole form.
What Are Whole Grains?
Grains are the seeds of grass-like plants called cereals. Some seeds of non-grass plants (pseudocereals), such as buckwheat and quinoa, are also considered whole grains. Whole grain kernels contain three parts. The bran is the hard, outer shell that is rich in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. The endosperm is the middle layer and is mostly made up of starchy carbohydrates. And the germ is the innermost, nutrient-packed layer that has vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, and healthy fats. No matter how the grain is rolled or crushed, as long as these three parts are present, the grain is considered a whole grain. Refined grains, on the other hand, have had the bran and germ removed, leaving only the endosperm.
Whole grains sure are good for you, but they are not for everyone. If you have a gluten sensitivity, you might not be able to eat all whole grains, but there are still plenty that you can still enjoy. Some gluten-free whole grains include buckwheat, rice, oats, and amaranth. However, some may have difficulty tolerating any type of grain, so be sure to consult a doctor if you are unsure.
Whole grains contain many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins (particularly B vitamins), minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese, protein, antioxidants, and many types of plant compounds that help prevent disease. All these nutrients work together in helping lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and chronic inflammation, and supporting healthy digestion.
Below is a list of commonly used whole grains in my recipes:
Wheat (pastas, bread, tortillas)
Brown, red, black rice