Friday, January 14, 2011

Focus Topic: Whole Grains

            Not gonna lie, it makes me so happy to see that as of right now, while I’m writing this post, 17 people have voted on the poll! That means at least 17 people have read my blog at least a few times and I feel a lot better about the time and effort I put into it. :) I forgot to mention after the last post, but your homework is to find ways to put more fruits and veggies into your daily eating habits and leave a comment about it. (Please don’t just leave a comment, make it a permanent habit!) Now, onto today’s food group… whole grains!
            We all know whole grains are good for us and that we’re suppose to eat them and that somehow, even with the extra calories and what not, they’re suppose to help us maintain a healthy body weight. How many of us who don’t understand what whole grains really do actually believe that? Not many. I’m going to shed a little light on whole grains in hopes that you’ll understand their importance and become more willing to make the change to whole grains!
            Cereal grains have three parts to them. There’s the shell (the fiber or the bran of the grain), the inner starch or the flour, and the germ. All are important parts of the grain and important for us to eat. During the processing of wheat into while flower, the fiber or bran, and the germ are removed and all that’s left is the starch or flour. When we eat white bread or bleached white flour in any other food, we’re only eating a third of the original grain. White rice is simply brown rice with the outer shell (the fibrous bran part) removed. The more processed these grains are, the less nutritional value they have.
            So, why do we care? One of the biggest things removed from these grains is fiber. And we all know what fiber does right? It helps… move things along… if you know what I mean. But that’s not all it does. Studies have revealed that consuming just 10 grams of fiber a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 14%. Holy cow! There are a lot of whole grain cereals out there containing fiber (not to mention our super food group fruits and vegetables that also contain fiber). Switching to a whole grain cereal or eating 2 slices of whole grain bread with some fruit in the morning can easily give us 10 grams of fiber. Add whole grains in other places throughout the day and you’re set! (And if I may be so bold, you’ll be pleased at how well things move along. Yes, it’s pleasant because white flour tends to keep us more constipated and whole grains remedy that.)
            Okay, so not only are we having happy bathroom experiences and lowering our risk for heart disease, we’re also protecting our bodies from other major health risks when we eat whole grains. Like fruits and veggies, whole grains protect against certain types of cancer. *Gasp!* Really? Yes! It’s amazing what a proper diet can do for you! Once again, studies were conducted to determine the relationship between whole grains and cancer. Eating whole grains can reduce the risk of contracting the following cancers: breast, ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic, stomach, and others. And guess what? That’s not all. Whole grains can help reduce the risk of becoming a diabetic. White flour is very quickly digested and put into the bloodstream very quickly which causes a dramatic increase in insulin. Whole grains, however, are released slowly over time which causes a slow increase in insulin (and keeps you fuller longer).
            Here’s a tip to finding out whether or not your foods contain whole grains. Find the ingredient list near the nutrition facts label. If the very first ingredient listed is “whole wheat” or some other type of whole grain, you’re good to go. If it’s listed as the second or third ingredient, the whole grain is not the main ingredient and therefore it’s not really a “whole grain” product. (They like to claim it is, but it’s really not.) So remember, just because the package says its whole grain doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Check that ingredient list for a whole grain as the first ingredient.
            So, how much should we eat? Well, ideally we should be eating all whole grains but that’s not always possible. Sadly, whole grain products are a little harder to find and are often times more expensive that processed and refined foods. Your homework is to make a switch in your diet to allow you to eat at least half of your normal grains as whole grains. For example, if you average 6 servings of grains per day (a serving is a slice of bread or a cup of cereal, something like that), make at least 3 of those servings whole grains. Once you’ve made the change, leave a comment about it! (And don't forget to cast your vote on the poll if you haven't already!)

* All studies and facts can be found in Steven Aldana’s book, The Culprit and the Cure which you can pick up at the Turbo Fit Store.

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