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Scientifically speaking, a whole grain is any grain from a cereal product that includes the bran, germ and endosperm of the product. Consumption of whole grains is important as they have a lot of nutritional benefits that contribute to lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, balancing blood sugar and more. Refined grains are a bit more processed and contain only the endosperm of the product. These products are not as beneficial due to their deficiencies in amino acids which occurs during processing. There are a number of different whole grains that you can add to your diet; each with their own nutritional benefit.
Different than the traditional wheat that you will find in store-bought loaves of bread, bulgur wheat is more like a rice product. It takes just a few minutes to cook with a bit of hot water and you can use it in a variety of salads or even as a breakfast food in place of oatmeal.
This whole grain has a corn-like taste and consistency and is actually used frequently in bird food mixtures. It is perfectly acceptable for humans to eat as well though. It works in place of rice in many dishes and comes packed with healthy fiber.
This is one whole grain you probably haven’t heard about before and that’s because it is relatively new to the supermarket scene. Freekeh is whole wheat that is harvested prematurely and it is then roasted and cracked before being used in a variety of recipes.
A commonly used whole grain, barley works well in recipes like soups and stews. It is about the size of a grain of rice but when cooked becomes very soft, almost like a very fluffy noodle. Barley is rich in B vitamins, fiber and can reduce cholesterol numbers.
This product is the wheat kernel in its whole form and can be consumed at this state. Very high in fiber, wheat berries take some time to cook. It is well worth it though thanks to the nutritional benefits that come with consuming this whole grain. The process of cooking the wheat berries is simple though, you just simmer them on the stovetop.
Not an actual whole grain, buckwheat is usually grouped into the whole grain family even though it technically is a seed. Very fibrous, buckwheat is usually turned into a flour and then used in products like noodles or bread.
Benefits Of Whole Grains
There are countless benefits of eating whole grains each day as part of a healthy diet and unless you are someone who is sensitive to gluten, there is no real reason to avoid them. Not only do whole grains provide you with plenty of fiber to keep your digestive system working properly, whole grains pack a ton of energy that will keep you going all day long. For those people who are trying to lose weight, skipping the carbs and grains isn’t necessarily a great idea. You just want to make sure that you leave the processed grains at the store and opt for healthier, whole grains. You can actually lose weight (especially in your mid-section) thanks to whole grains as they help re-distribute fat in and on the body.
When shopping for a whole grain product you will want to thoroughly read the label to find out more about the product and what it contains. A product that is minimally processed and contains whole grains will say so and you should stick with these brands. You may also want to look closely for words such as unbleached, unprocessed, natural, etc.