A grain kernel consists of three parts: the innermost germ, the endosperm that surrounds the germ, and the bran that envelopes both. Most of the kernel’s nutrients are locked into the germ and bran. Whole grain products, therefore, provide us with the full nutrient content of the grain kernel.
In the production of “refined” grain products, however, modern high-speed, high-heat roller mills strip away the germ and bran, leaving only the starchy endosperm, which is then ground into flour of varying consistencies. What’s left after refining contains less than 25 percent of the grain kernel’s magnesium and zinc, and barely a trace of vitamin E. All other nutrients, including the B-complex vitamins, are also severely reduced. But B vitamins are required for the proper breakdown of carbohydrates in the body; without them, food cannot be properly metabolized. In their natural state whole grain kernels contain everything we need for their assimilation and metabolism.
Another vital constituent of whole grains is fibre, an indigestible carbohydrate that helps to increase bulk and softness of fecal matter. By optimally supporting digestive and metabolic processes in the body, fibre helps to prevent unwanted weight gain. It can also control blood sugar levels by slowing the rate food passes through the intestinal tract, resulting in a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. A number of recent studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains may lower the risk of type II diabetes.
A whole grain kernel contains all the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals required to nourish the body and promote good health. Refined foods enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals offer little by comparison.
Whole Grains Nourish the Whole Body
Wheat stimulates the liver to rid the body of toxins, supports the heart, spleen, and pancreas, and treats a range of stress-related symptoms. Wheat fosters growth, so it is good for children.
Kamut and spelt are wheat relatives. Kamut is high in protein content. Spelt, a winter wheat, is softer and its higher moisture content requires less liquid than wheat in home baking.
Barley is rich in protein, B vitamins, and fibre. Barley also helps lower blood cholesterol, reduce tumours, and is used to treat hepatitis.
Oats are high in silicon and are good for bones and connective tissues. A high fibre content makes them an excellent mild laxative.
Rye builds muscle and increases stamina. Of all the grains, it has the highest lysine content, the amino acid needed to create body proteins, which are important for recovery from surgery or injury.
Buckwheat is actually a member of the rhubarb family. It’s a small but growing portion of our organic crops whose distinctive flavour and no gluten make it great for the gluten-intolerant.
Flax helps strengthen the immune, thyroid, and adrenal systems and regulates the hormones. Flax seeds are also said to energize, improve skin and hair, and enrich the blood.
– Abra Brynne