The Truth about Whole Grains

The Truth about Whole Grains

Whole grains are how grains grow naturally. The grain is made up of three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

  • The bran

The bran of a whole grain makes up the shell of the grain. The bran protects the grain against all external elements such as sunlight, pests and disease. The bran contains many important antioxidants, Vitamin Bs and plenty of fibre.

  • The germ

The germ of the whole grain is what sprouts new plants. It is a rich source of Vitamin Bs, protein, minerals and good fats.

  • The endosperm

The endosperm of the whole grain provides food to the germ. It sustains the new young plant for strong growth. The endosperm contains protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.

What about refined grains?

During the refining process, whole grains are stripped of the bran and germ. This means when you buy refined grains from the supermarkets, you are buying just the endosperm. Though the endosperm does contain the ingredients to promote healthy living, the majority of nutrients are missing.

How does this affect the nutritional value?

Once refined, whole grains lose a lot of their natural fibre – approximately 50 per cent. Yet, fibre is important for making you feel fuller for longer, assist in a healthy digestion system as well as other essential functions for healthy living.

About 25 per cent of the overall protein content of the whole grain is found in the bran and germ. There are also a large number of important nutrients which are removed from the grain once it has undergone the refining process. During the refining process, the processors do put some of these nutrients back into the refined grains, however, the “re-enhancement” of the product is never complete. This means that even with these nutrients added back in, refined grains are still not as nutritious as whole grains.

Whole grains, when used in breads and pasta are known as wholemeal. Wholemeal products are made by grinding whole grains down into a powder or wholegrain flour. Typical whole grain products are wholemeal bread, wholemeal flour, wholemeal pasta and popcorn. That's right, popcorn! When prepared correctly, popcorn can be a healthy snack full of all the nutrients of whole grains and a fantastic healthy snack idea for adults and kids alike.

Next time you are at the supermarket, look for whole grain products to replace your normal refined grain products and get all the goodness from this fantastic food group that nature intended.