Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Benefits of Whole Grains

By now, we should all be aware of the fact that whole grains are good for us. Because they are not refined to the same degree as other flours, they retain all the nutrition and fiber found in the hulls of each grain. However, not everything that says “whole grain” is necessarily wholly whole.

Various grains by Rainer Zenz over Thuresson on Wikimedia Commons
According to Dr. Oz, manufacturers often use phrases that sound suspiciously like what you’re looking for, but may not even be close.
  • Made with whole grains
    It may have a pinch of whole grains, but unless it's 100 percent, you won't reap most of the potential benefits.
  • Multigrain
    This tells you nothing about whether the grains are whole or refined. Even if you're getting 38 different grains, that isn't much good if they are all refined.
  • Whole grain
    If the label doesn't say "100 percent whole grain," it may have many grain blends. Bad words to see paired with "flour" are: "enriched," "bleached," "unbleached," "semolina," "durum" and "rice." (
So, if it doesn’t say 100% on the label, don’t buy it if it’s whole grains that you’re going for.  My opinion deviates slightly from this in that when a family is used to nothing but refined grain breads and other flour products, it might be best to wean them into the whole grains. Going straight from nice, soft, spongy white bread to nutty and heavier whole grain bread can be a shock. Maybe start with the new whole grain white and go from there which according to the Mayo Clinic provide identical benefits to regular brown whole grain breads. Once they realize they’re already eating whole grains, they may branch out to try other forms. I personally like some of the whole grain breads. In fact, I like whole grain breads better than whole wheat bread.

Another thing is that whole grains are better for diabetics. The way the body processes the whole grain carbs is much different than the refined carbs. Eating white bread is like eating a spoonful of sugar for me. I do buy it when the budget’s tight, but I can tell the difference. It speeds through my system like a jet plane and the next thing I know, I’m sleepy and wanting a nap. But, if I’m eating a whole grain product, the processing in my system takes longer and the body processes the carbs more efficiently, so I don’t get that sudden drop in energy (not to mention the rapid elevation of sugar). If you are diabetic and are eating a refined carb item, make sure you also eat an equal amount of protein. The protein will help reduce the rate at which your body processes those carbs. That doesn’t mean that it’s OK all the time, but try to balance it when you have no other choice.

Did you know that tortilla chips are whole grain? Boy, I like them with salsa! But, my sugar doesn’t spike and I don’t get that “can’t hold my eyes open” reaction to eating them. Of course, I use that fact to justify my addiction to that snack, but it really isn’t that horrific of a thing. The salsa is low carb and the chips are complex carbs. I had my sugar read at the ER about an hour and a half after making a meal of chips and salsa and it was actually normal! Of course, just eating chips and salsa isn’t very balanced, but I haven’t had a normal sugar mid-day in a long time. So, I can attest to the benefit of whole grains with regard to diabetes.

Are you dieting? Do you like rye bread? Then maybe you should eat more rye bread than wheat bread. Studies have shown that people who ate rye bread at breakfast were less hungry at lunch than those who ate wheat. Whether it’s because of rye’s high fiber content or rye’s interaction with the body’s insulin triggers, people who eat rye bread feel fuller longer. Rye-brand breads have an even better effect on hunger. (ibid.)

So, everyone should start trying to incorporate whole grain products into their daily diets. It doesn’t take much to start making the switch. Some of the choices out there are really delicious!


  1. Love whole grains. I absolutely cannot eat white sandwich bread anymore unless it's homemade.

  2. I love bread and pasta. Used to make my bread, though got out of the habit. I do still make some of my pasta though. I love carbs.

  3. A woman after my own heart...didn't know that about rye...I'll have to try it.