Grains are generally healthy for you unless you have some type of intolerance or allergy. It’s what we do with the grain is what compromises their nutritional value. To start out, common grains are wheat, rice, oats, corn, or barley. Grains can be turned into cornmeal, pasta, oatmeal, tortillas, and grits.
Grains start out healthy, and then they are processed and become refined grains. Whole grains include the entire kernel, which is comprised of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples of whole grains are whole-wheat/whole-grain flour, cracked/bulgur wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. Refined grains will have been processed and generally have the bran and germ removed. This removal occurs to produce a fine texture and generally improves shelf life. However, the refining process also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many vitamins. Examples of refined grains are white flour, de-germed cornmeal, white break, and white rice. Although many refined grains may be enriched with vitamins and iron, the fiber is not added back in.
In addition, to losing vitamins and dietary fiber, you will also be turning a low glycemic food into a high glycemic food. This means that your body will be turning the refined grain into sugar/insulin quicker than if it were whole grain.
I have written previous blogs on how much fiber you need daily, how to make sure the grains you’re getting are whole, and what glycemic foods to avoid. If you have any questions on nutrition, contact me, Pat Gilles.