Grain consumption as a “whole” has gotten a bad reputation. Fad diet books like “The Paleo Diet,” “The Wheat Belly Diet” and many other diets that encourage the avoidance of carbohydrates have left us falling short of our dietary fiber needs.
The use of refined grains has customized our taste buds towards a preference for enriched foods that lack the nutritional whole grain fiber benefits. Refined grains are found in products such as breads, noodles and pasta, and baked goods like rolls, biscuits and cookies. The process of refining grains removes 40 percent of original grain leaving only 60 percent behind. Refined grains have more than half of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and fiber removed. Why would you want to remove these beneficial nutrients from your diet? Choosing whole grains ensures that you are getting maximum nutrients and all the fiber grains have to offer.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the average adult consumes 15 grams of fiber per day. While men need 38 grams and women should reach 25 grams of fiber per day, a substantial increase overall is recommended. Achieving this amount of fiber can be easily mastered by simply choosing whole versus refined grains.
A whole grain simply means that the bran (outer layer), endosperm (middle layer) and germ (inner layer) are contained. The most nutritious parts of the grain are the bran and germ, which contain concentrated amounts of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Bottom Line: The best way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet is by eating more plant foods. Good sources of fiber include beans, artichokes, raspberries, blackberries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Replacing refined grains for whole grains, such as using white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, whole wheat bread for white bread, whole wheat pasta for regular pasta and brown rice for white rice at certain meals throughout the week is a great place to start. Before you know it, whole grains will become a staple in your diet providing fiber to help maintain a healthy body weight.
Written by: Aimee Amacher, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern