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Importance of Whole Grains in the Diet
April 9, 2012
Beverley Hyatt, PhD, MPH, RD
Importance of Grains in our Diet
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Complex carbohydrates found in grains are low in fat, high in fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Grains are known to lower the risk of some chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Whole grains which are rich in fiber are necessary to promote bowel health. The fiber found in grains promotes growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Eating grain products fortified with folate before and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects during fetal development (Choosemyplate.gov, 2012).Whole grains such as wheat bread, oats, and granola are excellent sources of fiber.
There are three kinds of grain foods in the market: whole, refined, and enriched grains. The difference between them are whether or not the grains are milled. The whole grains, as the name suggests, are not milled. The bran and germs are still intact. Refined and enriched grains have been milled. The bran and germs are removed. the enriched and usually have artificial nutrients added. Whole grains have more nutritional value compared to other grains becauses the brans and germs are still attached. Bran and germ are the source of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and selenium . The refined variant does not have them. It is possible to add the lost nutrients with the enriching process . Many refined grain products are enriched however, still lack the fiber lost in the milling process, and are nutritionally inferior to the whole grain counterpart. Some easy ways to increase whole grain intake are:
• replace white rice and pasta with brown rice and whole wheat pasta, switch white bread for whole wheat bread
• use whole wheat...
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