Now that life revolves so much more around the kitchen, it’s appropriate that September — designated Whole Grains Month — reminds us of the importance of the underdog of the food pyramid.
What are whole grains anyway?
They’re the healthy alternative to refined grains, credited with keeping weight gain at bay, and providing fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. A whole grain contains the three key parts of a seed — the bran, germ and endosperm.
Whole grains can be regular foods, such as rice, bulgur, farro, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, or ingredients such as buckwheat in pancakes.
Even more important, research has shown whole grains are an important part of the kind of diet that can keep weight gain at bay as we age. A Harvard University study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, identified whole grains as one of five foods that helped participants stay healthy and trim. The others were vegetables, fruits, nuts and yogurt.
The foods that contributed to weight gain included what might be considered whole grains’ evil twin — refined grains.
Refined grains are milled, stripping away the bran and the germ, as well as fiber and other nutrients.
They’re among the foods that the researchers found contributed to age-related weight gain — crackers, pastries, desserts, white rice, white bread, potato chips and many kinds of cereals. Other foods on the weight-gain list were potatoes, processed meats, red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Most refined grains are enriched, but they still lack fiber and important vitamins and nutrients.
So keep boosting your immune system, and feel great about your self-discipline, as you keep whole grains top of mind.
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