While many of us were raised on the classic white bread, rice and pasta, whole grains are starting to take over. That’s because we’ve discovered that eating products made with whole grains is more beneficial for your health than their lighter cousins. But why?
Whole Grain vs. White
What makes whole grains better than refined (aka processed) grains? Whole grains are part of a healthy diet because they help lower the risk of disease. In fact, numerous studies have shown that consuming whole grains can significantly reduce your chances of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.
Don’t refined grains do this too? That’s where it gets tricky. During the refining process, the nutritional value of the grain is affected. Much of the dietary fiber content, which contributes to the healthy weight management and disease fighting benefits of the grains, is stripped away during processing. Some of these nutrients are added back in, but since the grain is no longer intact, you’re not getting the same spectrum of benefits you would have if you had consumed the whole grain. In a whole grain, the phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber are working together as nature intended. Compared to white flour, most whole grain flours contain more folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B1, B3 (niacin) and B5 (pantothenic acid).
So, in short, you may not get the same amount of benefits eating refined grains as you would eating whole grains.
What About the Taste?
As someone who spent most of my young life eating white rice and pasta, I can honestly say that transitioning to the brown, whole grain varieties wasn’t easy in the beginning. But that was just because I wasn’t used to their heartier flavors. Since I’ve switched to predominantly whole grain products, I appreciate their flavor much more now, and the health benefits are a major bonus.
If you’re unsure about whether your family will approve, try incorporating whole grains into your meals gradually. You can also try them in several of our delicious and good-for-you entrees, including our Vegetable Bibimbap and Orange Mango Chicken.