Whole Grain

We are buffeted by information urging us to have whole grains. And rightly so as it has been scientifically proven that whole grains contain carbohydrates, fiber, fats, protein, vitamins such as B and E complexes, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Besides soluble and insoluble fiber, there are several other naturally occurring substances such as tocopherols, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, glutamine, phytoestrogens, lignans, flavonoids, oligosaccharides, inositol, phenolics, saponins, lectins, and protease and amylase inhibitors.

Whole grains contain protective antioxidants in amounts near or exceeding those in fruits and vegetables. They also provide some unique antioxidants not found in other foods. Corn, for example, has almost twice the antioxidants present in apples. Wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in antioxidant activity. Whole grains also provide energy, prevent diseases from developing, lower blood cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and improve immune function.

So how much whole grain should we have? For a diet with a high proportion of improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends that whole grains should account for at least half of a personís daily grain consumption.

Just having half your meals in the form of any whole grain is not enough. Studies have shown that more than 70 percent of the grains we consume are wheat-based. Since wheat contains gluten, it can harm the intestine. Vary your whole grain diet by including nongluten grains such as corn and rice in the diet. Pasta and noodles made of corn and rice are available and so are corn tortillas. If you like hot cereals, go for cream of rye, cream of buckwheat and whole grain oatmeal.