(Please note that, while I have done a great deal of research on this topic, most of this information can be found on the website of the Whole Grains Council, which is also a wonderful resource for recipes and other resources!)
Grains have long been respected for their role in the eating habits of every society, whether thousands of years ago or just last week. Without grains, humanity would lose a major source of nutrition and would be fairly unlikely to last. Grains are delicious and very good for you, they are often low in price and high in nutritional value, and can be found just about anywhere.
But what are whole grains? According to the Whole Grains Council, "Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed." This means that the grain has not been heavily milled, resulting in a loss of the nutritious bran. Whole grains contain a great deal of nutrients, and depending on the grain and how it is prepared, can provide a great deal of the nutrition needed to those who are eating vegan or vegetarian diets.
Basing your meals around whole grains can cause you to fill up faster on a portion that is smaller and also more nutritionally dense than what you might usually eat. For example, if you are trying to cut down on your meat consumption, eating a larger amount of whole grains and vegetables with a small portion of meat is a great way to get balanced nutrition and still feel full. Additionally, studies cited by the Whole Grains Council have said that eating a diet high in whole grains can help cut belly fat!
However, potential weight loss is not the only benefit of eating whole grains. These powerful grains can lower blood pressure and cholesterol while increasing overall health and longevity. They can provide antioxidants and important proteins and even help with muscle recovery in those living an active, athletic lifestyle! They are great for your heart, lowering the likelihood for heart disease, and they can reduce the risk of diabetes and some forms of breast cancer. (Look here for more benefits of whole grains!)
So what are the whole grains? While there are quite a few, the most popular (and easy to find) whole grains are:
- Quinoa (keen-wah)
- Corn (popcorn and cornmeal included!)
- Wheat (including bulgar)
- Barley (hulled)
- Wild Rice
And several others. Go here for a complete list of whole grains!
Essentially, adding whole grains to your diet is one of the best things that you can do for your heart and mind. There's a huge amount of information to be found on the web, but one of the most valuable resources I've discovered is the Whole Grains Council. For ongoing recipes and tips regarding whole grains and other healthy lifestyle alternative, subscribe to my RSS feed.
-The Calm Cook