Wheat, Why is it so Good?
Wheat is packed with vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, processing used to produce and refine white flour removes most of the valuable nutrients. Wheat kernels have three main divisions; the bran, the endosperm, and the inner embryo or wheat germ. The bran layer constitutes 14% of the wheat kernel and is removed when producing white flour. The bran is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, iron, and iodine. The bran also happens to be the best source of dietary fiber which aids in digestion and helps ward off disease. The wheat germ layer is an excellent source of vitamin E, as well as other vitamins and protein. Many important nutrients are removed when layers are separated during processing. For this reason, it makes sense to put whole wheat back into your diet. Pound for pound, wheat is one of the least expensive foods available. And, since grain products will expand in your stomach--satisfying you even if you eat less--using wheat products can help you stretch your budget by elimieliminating the need for store-bought, overpriced, and over-processed goods. If you are concerned that your food storage may be lacking in protein, a good supply of wheat and beans will form a complete protein. Just a half cup of uncooked wheat contains 8 to 10 grams of protein. So, not only will wheat give you the protein needed for muscle growth and repair, but you will have a low-fat complex carbohydrate to give your body the energy it needs to make it through the day.
Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
Whole grains haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them better sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn't digest. Among many health benefits, a high-fiber diet also tends to make a meal feel more filling and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don't have as many nutrients as whole grains do, and they don't provide as much fiber. Rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta are all grains or grain products. Eat whole grain versions — rather than refined grains — as often as possible.
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
- Wild rice
- Corn flakes
- Enriched macaroni or spaghetti
- White bread (refined)
- White rice
Unlike many grains which contain fiber only in the outer bran layer, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel. So whether it’s whole grain or processed barley products, dietary fiber, including beta-glucan soluble fiber, is available in amounts that have a positive impact on improving blood glucose levels. Barley also helps lower cholesterol. It is a great addition to any diet. It’s easy to include barley in a healthful and delicious diet. Choose barley flakes for a hardy cooked breakfast cereal. Add pearl or whole grain barley kernels to your favorite soups, stews, casseroles and salads. Or use cooked pearl or whole grain barley kernels as a fiber-rich addition to your favorite stir-fry or Chinese take-out entrees.
The same soluble fiber found in oats that reduces cholesterol can also benefit those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. People who eat oatmeal or oat bran-rich foods experience lower spikes in their blood sugar levels than they could get with a low fiber food like white rice, white bread, or regular pasta. "The soluble fiber slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach and delays the absorption of glucose following a meal." One recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a low intake of cereal fiber to be inversely associated with a risk for diabetes. The authors conclude : "these findings suggest that grains should be consumed in a minimally refined form to reduce the incidence of diabetes mellitus." They also found a significant inverse association with cold breakfast cereals and yogurt and, not surprisingly, a significant positive association with colas, white bread, white rice, french fries, and cooked potatoes. The more you eat of the latter, the greater your risk for diabetes.
If you walk down the cereal aisle in your local grocery store you will probably notice many cereal boxes or instant oatmeal boxes claiming their cholesterol lowering abilities. This is bringing many consumers attention to the power of oats. The specific fiber beta glucan- in oats is the soluble fiber that seems responsible for this benefit. Many studies have shown that in individuals with high cholesterol, consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day- or roughly the amount in a bowl of oatmeal can lower total cholesterol by 8 to 23 percent.
Oats' Powerful Phytochemicals
Oats also contain a great source of phytonutrients which help prevent disease. The germ and bran of oats contain a concentrated amount of phytonutrients, including caffeic acid and ferulic acid. Ferulic acid has been the focus of recent research that shows promising evidence of its ability to prevent colon cancer. It has been found to be a powerful antioxidant that is able to scavenge free radicals and protect against oxidative damage. It also seems to have the ability to inhibit the formation of certain cancer-promoting compounds.
Pratt, S.G., K. Matthews (2004). SuperFoods Rx Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life.
New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Flaxseed: Nutritious and Versatile
Flax seeds offer a lot of nutritional benefits in a small package. Flax seeds have vitamins, minerals and healthy poly-unsaturated fatty acids. A large amount of the essential fatty acids found in flax seed oil are omega 3 essential fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular risk. Flax seeds also provide fiber for healthy digestion and freshly ground flax seed is an excellent source of lignans. Lignans from flax seed can help restore hormonal balance.
- Maximum nutrition: freshly ground. Whole seeds are not digested completely. Pre-ground seeds lose nutrition as they sit.
- Purchase whole, grind with coffee grinder or cereal grinder, or VitaMix Machine.
- Sprinkle on prepared foods, for flavor and nutrition: Oatmeal, granola, yogurt, smoothies, stir-fry, salads, soups, buttered bagel, applesauce
- Baking with flax gives a “Nutty” flavor. Great in waffles, pancakes, bran muffins, breads, oatmeal cookies.
- Use as an egg substitution (See Melissa’s blog at wheatdairyeggnutfree.blogspot.com)
- Excellent “binder,” holds product together.
- Use in waffles, muffins, cookies, quick breads. Try meatloaf, crumb-coated chicken tenders