When it comes to nutrition, the only thing more confusing than the meat controversy is the story on grains. What are grains and whole grains, how do they fit into nutrition, and just how much are you being mislead by labels and buzz words? To clear up all that confusion and send you to the grocery with confidence, HBI has waded deep into the fields and found some important kernels of truth, per nutritionists.
The Nutritionists and “Whole Grains”
The first thing you need to figure out the tangle of grains in knowing exactly what a grain is. A grain is a fruit or seed from any number of cereal crops. The one you probably recognize most is wheat, but there are dozens worldwide, including rye, oats, barley, and rice.
A single whole grain consists of the hull or husk, which is generally not eatable and is removed, a thin skin layer called the bran, a tiny inner section that a new grain plant grows from called the germ, and the main body of the seed called the endosperm, which is what would feed the new plant. When you are eating wheat or white bread that is not specifically “whole grain”, you are eating the processed endosperm of the wheat, with the bran and germ removed.
Whether you are a self-pay patient, cash patient or a patient with the best insurance plans, you need to understand that a significant amount of the nutrition in grains is in the bran and germ parts that are so often removed because it makes for a lighter dough without dark coloring when making bread and pastries, and because the bran and germ tend to attract much higher prices as separate parts of the grain as “health food” or “supplements” than part of the whole grains they came from.
The sad truth on labels is that they are often purposefully misleading, offering “multi-grain” or using the word “whole” when they don’t use whole grains. Make sure you always read the ingredients list, true whole grain foods should have the word whole combined with the grain, such as “whole wheat” or “whole grain wheat”. These ingredients need to be in the first 5 on the list. Qualified nutritionists can provide more information. FYI, most nutritionists are cash friendly healthcare providers.
Grains, Pseudograins, and Nutrition
The next confusion causing set of facts is that many things used as grains are not grains and even a few things we recognized as vegetables are actually grains. Corn and rice, for example, are actually grains, not vegetables, while buckwheat and amaranth are actually the seeds of herbs, not grains, that we use the same way as a grain.
This can cause a great deal of confusion, but it does not need to. Pseudograins have many of the same qualities and nutrition as true grains and are proven in many of the recipes in which you would use true grains. There is no reason to bother with trying to sort out the grains from the pseudo-grains as far as your everyday cooking and nutrition are concerned. However, a nutritionist can play a key role in this selection.
However, in an effort to give you as complete a knowledge as possible, here is a list of the most used grains in the world divided by their true grain or pseudograin status. To find a specific nutrition profile for any of these grains, please see the Grain Nutrition Facts page on recipetips.com.
|True Grains (whole grains)||Pseudograins|
In general, all grains are a carbohydrate food that does not contain any saturated fats or cholesterol. They are a rich source of protein, but lack the essential amino acids that can only be contained from animal protein sources and do not interact the same with these nutrients when they are added to the grains, making for incomplete nutrition. When grains are used whole, they are packed with vitamins and minerals, and the interactions of whole grains are much more nutritious than split grains that have had the bran and germ added back into them.
Gluten: What Your Nutritionists Want You To Know
Gluten has caused a lot of controversy as of late and is vastly misunderstood. Gluten is a mixture of two proteins in some, but not all, grains and is the cause of the wonderful elastic texture of the dough when it is being worked. Gluten allergy is actually a medical issue known as Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine of those that suffer the disease when they eat gluten in any form.
Celiac Disease causes a wide array of nutrition-related health issues and can be mistaken for many other autoimmune disorders. It is imperative that you get a small intestine biopsy and complete blood work done while eating gluten heavy foods in order to be properly diagnosed. That means you need to find a reputable cash lab for the testing, as well as a cash friendly internist, cash nutritionists, you might also need a new family doctor that is familiar with Celiac Disease. Most insurance plans may not cover these elective tests so you have to choose ‘self-pay patient’ route for these tests.
In the past few years, gluten has gotten a very bad reputation because of undiagnosed Celiac Disease. However, gluten in itself is not harmful to anyone that does not have Celiac Disease. Often, those with allergies or a low tolerance to certain grains believe they have a gluten allergy and remove healthy grains from their diet, causing even more nutrition issues. Once again, testing with a reputable cash lab and good cash doctors are the only way to be sure of a real medical concern and not risk your health by removing nutrition you need to stay truly healthy from your diet.
The Risks of Refined Grains
Many of the health problems associated with grains are actually problems with refined grains and what is added to them. Commercial bread companies, for example, use added fiber, vitamins, and minerals in an effort to replace the nutrition lost in the refining process, however, your body does not recognize these enrichments the same as it would whole grains. Because your body does not see the enrichments the same as whole grains, the nutrients are not processed the same, or at all, depending on what form of enrichment is used.
This is one of the major reasons that the average American believes that grain-based products are unhealthy and the main cause of obesity and other food-related illnesses. By removing the essential nutrients found in bran and germ and trying to replace the nutrition with chemical, incomplete, or incompatible enrichments, commercial refined grain products become the health risk that people think they are.
The truth is that unrefined whole grains are very healthy and nutritious eating for any that do not have a medical issue pertaining to those grains, just like all whole natural foods. Moreover, it is also true of all foods that the farther you get from their natural state, the less nutrition and the more health risks the food contains, and grains are no exception.
Grains, Nutrition, and Health Beyond Insurance
Enjoying whole grains does not have to be hard, however, it does require a little bit of adjusting. Whole grains are a little coarser than you might be used to, no matter what recipe you put them in, they often have a much stronger flavor, even if the foods you normally expect to have little or no flavor at all, such as pasta. Some simple recipe adjustments can make up for the change in most cases, and you may soon come to find that a food that is not devoid of its own flavor is worth eating on its own, without a lot of sauce or flavorings.
Health Beyond Insurance knows you have more questions, especially considering the very serious disease that can be connected to gluten-carrying grains. Join us for free today and seek out the local cash nutritionists, cash internist, and cash family doctors and cash labs that are waiting to ensure your healthy food choices are also healthy medical choices!
Next week we tackle meats and dairy, two of the most controversial food choices, and help you discover what you really need to understand when shopping for meat from any source. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to get the complete picture of all the topics we cover!