These nutrients might get a bad rap, but they have important health benefits for those whose diets allow them.
The low-carb diet trend in recent years has many avoiding grains, but that may not be the best choice. While refined grains have essentially no nutritional value (they lack substantial nutrients and are fattening), whole grains—specifically what are known as cereal grains—have many health benefits.
Cereal grains, such as barley, brown rice, corn, oat, rye and wheat, and pseudocereal grains such as buckwheat, chia and quinoa, are considered whole when all the grain’s components (the bran, germ, and endosperm) are included.
Any in-depth examination of the nutritional value of grains undoubtedly will bring to light the contrarian point of view that grains—especially whole grains—are harmful, but this opinion has been thoroughly debunked by scholars.
While everyone should limit or eliminate their intake of refined grains, the only people who should avoid grains are those with certain specific conditions, including people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease—and even then, not all grains need to be blacklisted.
The Good From Grains
The fact is, increasing your consumption of whole grains is one of the easiest ways to make your diet healthier. You’ll find whole grains are a great source of protein, fiber and B vitamins, as well as antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
What’s more, the consumption of whole grains has been linked to fewer deaths from inflammatory and infectious causes, a lower risk of cancer and other mortalities, lower rates of cardiovascular and heart diseases, and a lower risk of diabetes.
Scientists also have connected whole grains to lowering both cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other research has shown that the fiber from whole grains can reduce your risk of colon cancer in ways that other fibers can’t.
If that’s not enough, several studies have indicated that eating whole grains beneficially impacts the microbial profile of the gut.
A Special Nutritional Combination
Pairing whole grains with legumes—such as the staple combination of rice and beans—creates what’s known as a complete protein, which is anything with the nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own.
Even better is how the beans complement the rice: The beans help metabolize the carbohydrates in white rice, which alone can cause blood glucose levels to spike.
Enjoying Tasty Whole Grains
There is a lot of variety in whole grains, especially when you explore lesser known grains such as bulgur, farro, teff, sorghum, and quinoa.
For a delicious and healthy dish, try this chef-approved recipe:
Chickpea and Quinoa Bowl
At The Pickled Beet, we specialize in crafting customized diets based on what your body needs to feel your best. Whether we’re cooking for a vegan or omnivore, an autoimmune client, or a family that just needs help getting a delicious dinner on the table, the formula is the same: quality ingredients produce tasty, nutritious meals. Our Miami-area clients know it’s a win-win: good food that’s good for you. For more information on what we offer, contact us.