What Are Whole Grains?
Whole grains are eaten with the entire grain seed in tact, which includes the bran, endosperm and germ or embryo. Examples of whole grains include amaranth, barley, buckwheat, brown and wild rice, bulgur, corn, oats, quinoa, millet, rye, sorghum and wheat. Learn more at WholeGrains Council.org.
Nutrition and Disease Prevention
Rich in fiber, protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and anthocyanins, scientific evidence supports that the nutritional make-up of grains helps with weight loss and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, some types of cancer, metabolic syndrome and digestive orders.
Whole Versus Refined Grains
ChooseMyPlate.gov suggests that at least half the grains we eat should be whole grains. Most of us eat more refined grains. What’s the difference? Refined grains have the bran and germ removed leaving only the starchy endosperm. Protein and nutrients are also removed in the refining process. Refined grains are enriched with vitamins and nutrients, but they are not as nutritionally packed as whole grains.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that whole grains provide 75 percent of the world’s food supply, and The World Watch Institute reports that humans receive almost half of their calories from grains. Beyond nutrition, grains are also used for livestock feed, as a source for ethanol and other biofuels as well as plant-based ingredients in industrial and consumer products.
With the United Nations projecting that the world’s population will climb to nine billion people by 2050, grains are a part of the answer to supplying the world with food, fuel, medicine and other needed commodities.