Did you ever make your own glue as a child? Your mom probably mixed a little white flour and warm water into a glue-like paste for creative play. Have you ever considered the wisdom in eating something that has glue-like properties? With no fiber left to keep white flour moving, it can create a paste within the wall of your digestive tract.
What is a “whole grain”? This should not be a trick question, yet in American food culture, it has become quite confusing. A whole grain by definition is a grain which contains all three layers: the bran, endosperm and the germ. According to the FDA’s Whole Grain Council, “There are no standards of identity for whole grain products per se.” (1) Much of the labeling is left up to the honesty of the manufacturer. Bread can be labeled “whole grain” yet still made with white flour and a small amount of cracked wheat thrown in for texture. Wheat flour is a synonym for white flour. Unbleached flour is still highly refined. No wonder we are in such whole grain confusion!
Whole wheat is the most common form of whole grain here in America. When harvested, wheat is known as a wheat berry, which is, by definition, a true whole grain. To create flour it goes through extensive milling process, similar to sugar. Each step of milling removes nutrients. The whole wheat berry starts out with 26 nutrients which are all lost to some degree during milling. (1) The removal of the germ layer loses vitamins and unsaturated fats. The loss of bran removes the fiber, magnesium, and more vitamins. Yet it is the high-fiber bran layer of the whole grain which slows digestion and lowers insulin response and has been proven to help prevent cancer, obesity and diabetes. By the time the whole grain has been turned into white flour, it has lost 95% of its vitamin E, 90% of vitamin B6, and magnesium, 80% of riboflavin, niacin, fiber, and zinc, nearly 70% of potassium, iron and copper.(2) The list goes on and on. . . Generally speaking, 5 synthetic vitamins and are added back, but not in the same amounts of that which were lost.
True whole grains are: whole wheat berries, brown rice, spelt, whole oats, barley (not pearled) buckwheat, quinoa, millet & teff. The obvious advantage of eating the whole grain is the benefit of full nutritional value and fiber. When shopping you must read the labels! The best bread you can buy is one that is made daily from freshly ground wheat berries. On packaging, look for “100 percent whole grain” or “stone ground whole wheat flour”. Or even better, try sprouted grain bread.
1. Food and Drug Administration. “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Whole Grain label statements.” (2006) http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/files/FDAdraftguidance.pdf
2. Willett, W. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. Free Press. (2005)
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