For Better Health, Go with Unrefined Options
Food made with refined white flour often contain ingredients, like sugar and fats, that can lead to inflammation. But that’s not the only reason you should be eating fewer processed grains and more whole grains.
Whole grains cause a slower rise in blood glucose than refined grains. Eating more whole grains may make you eat less because you feel more full, and that may lead to less obesity, which is linked to inflammation.
In fact, research has linked eating whole grains to a host of health improvements, including reduced levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), lower cholesterol levels, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a longer life expectancy.
Alicia Romano, a registered dietitian at Tufts Medical Center, believes the collective effect of nutrients, like fiber and B vitamins, found in whole grains, and missing from refined grains, makes the difference.
You lose a lot of nutrients during the refining process. Whole grains consist of the bran, germ and endosperm, containing B vitamins (like thiamin, riboflavin and folate), iron, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients.
Refined grains are milled to achieve a finer texture, but milling strips out the fiber-rich bran and the germ, where nutrients are concentrated. They may be enriched (with stripped nutrients that are added back) and/or fortified with other nutrients.
Look for 100 percent whole grain (“pearled” grains are refined) and read ingredient lists. “The first ingredient should be 100 percent whole grains” Dietitian Romano says.
Don’t be afraid to try different grains. Each grain has its own unique texture and flavor profile. Most are prepared like rice, simmer with water until it’s absorbed, although some need more water and time to cook. Make enough for several meals and refrigerate, then serve it reheated or cold with any meal.
For breakfast: Soak oats overnight in soy milk, microwave them in the morning and top with fresh fruit. Or heat a bowl of cooked amaranth and drizzle with honey, milk and walnuts.
For lunch: Cook and chill quinoa, then add black beans, chopped tomatoes, onions and celery, and toss with vinaigrette.
For supper: For a pilaf with a twist, saute onion and mushroom with faro in oil, then add water or broth and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
Great Grains to Try