I may be preaching to the choir here but I’m going to jump in anyway because I can’t tell you how many people I talk to really are confused as to what whole grains really are. We have been instructed to read labels in order to make the healthiest choices. But if you don’t really understand what an ingredient is, reading the label won’t help.
This isn’t going to be an intensive look at this, but I feel like many need a bit of a refresher course if you will. So let’s just clarify a few terms:
Whole grain products are generally less processed—the grain is literally left whole, meaning it still contains the whole kernel (the germ and bran which are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) and thus the whole nutritional spectrum of the grain.
You can have gluten free whole grain products as there are numerous gluten free whole grains such as teff, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, kamut, spelt, amaranth and sorghum.
Whole wheat is not the same as “whole grain” although it is a whole grain.
Wheat products, even whole wheat that we were raised to believe was healthier than white bread, pasta, crackers and the like, are made from hybridized, genetically manipulated wheat. It is not just about the gluten it contains which causes problems. What used to be a truly healthy food contains a super starch, super gluten and a super-addictive drug that creates cravings and is a driver of the obesity epidemic.
So what are we do do? Well reading the label carefully is definitely step one. Choosing gluten free or organic, sprouted whole grain products would be my next suggestion. If you test your blood sugar it would be interesting to see the difference in your reading after eating a couple of slices of “healthy” whole wheat bread (which is known to raise blood sugar as much as 2 tablespoons of white sugar) compared to a truly whole grain product like quinoa or millet.
When I bake my Easter or New Year’s breads at the holidays, I have begun using organic Einkorn wheat flour, an ancient, heirloom grain, which is actually a true whole wheat. It doesn’t contain those super ingredients that are causing all the problems. It causes fewer issues than the wheat flours we find now. That being said, we are low-carb and gluten free most of the time as I see the many benefits.
Are you confused by the term whole grain? How do you decide what products to choose?
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