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“Rethinking” Grains

16 Jan

Last week I began discussing rethinking what we already know about health. (or what we think we know.)

We discussed that nutrition is crucial for our long term health, and many consider it to be the building blocks and foundation to being healthy. Without a proper foundation, a “building” has no chance….

So today, I’m gonna jump right in:

Rethinking Grains:

Grans is a very hot topic. It’s one where everyone has their own opinion, experiences and preferences.

No matter which school of thought that we follow, we need to remember the most basic thing rule: Beware of White Flour:

clip_image001What is White Flour?

White flour products (such as “enriched” flours) are missing the two most nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the seed: the outside bran layer and the germ (embryo). The wheat is milled, which removes the bran and germ. This process gives the flour a longer shelf life.

These products should not be STAPLES in our diets. On OCCASION I bake yummy cookies and cakes for my friends and family, but as a general rule, white flour should not be a staple, used in sandwiches, pastas, dinners etc.. White flour has been STRIPPED of nutritional value and while “carb loading” might give us a quick boost of energy, the satiated feeling doesn’t last long and the negative effects last longer.

White flour can and WILL make us fat and sleepy. It causes anxiety, mood swings and depression and weakens our immune systems making our bodies more susceptible to illnesses. There is a very long list of why white flour is bad – so please when you have a moment, google it.

Ok, so white flour is bad. I think we all get that by now, right? So what’s the alternative?

How about Whole Grains?

“Whole grains (or foods made from them) contain ALL the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. This definition means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.” (Definition of Whole Grains – WholeGrainsCouncil.org)

So let’s talk whole grain breads. Once again – it’s a HOT topic and it can be VERY confusing.

Breads – Check those Ingredients!!

If you want to make things super fun, let’s talk about the fact that many of the breads sold in supermarkets that claim are whole grain and super duper healthy, are not as healthy as they seem. This is why we must learn to understand to decode nutritional and ingredient labels.

The other night, I went to my local grocery store to do some investigative research on the subject. I went with the intention to compare the popular breads and study the labels. I then went home and researched this on the internet.

If it Looks Whole Grain, and Says Whole Grain, Is it Whole Grain?

The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I eating whole grain?” Just because we ate “brown” colored bread, doesn’t mean the bread is in fact whole grain. Many products tout they are a healthy source of whole grains, when in reality refined flour is the first ingredient. The FDA does not define what percentage of grain must be whole in order to use this claim, so be sure “whole grain” or “whole wheat flour” is listed as a primary ingredient.

My dear readers, I was so flipping confused I can’t even begin to express my frustration at how difficult it was to demystify the healthy breads amongst the supermarket shelves!!

Breads or Cereals may say “Whole Grain” on the label, but that doesn’t tell us how much of the flour contained within is really whole.

Points to Remember:

– White flour products should NOT be staples on our tables.

– Introduce sprouted bread products – Duby recommends: Ezekiel Bread, and Alvarado St. Bakery Sprouted Breads I am also a fan of The Baker Company. They have very few ingredients in their products (always an excellent sign!).

– Many people have difficulties digesting WHEAT and wheat products. There are many whole grain breads out there that are NOT made from wheat and therefore easier to digest and lower on the glycemic index. (Spelt is one of them – and I make a Spelt Challah with no sugar and it’s wonderful!)

– Its imperative to listen to our bodies when we eat grains. Have a little fun science experiment with yourself. If you “crave” another slice or don’t feel at all full after eating one or two slices, you might want to consider switching companies.

– Don’t rely on fiber numbers to find whole grains. Breads, especially "light" loaves, may have added processed fiber.

– The less ingredients the better. Even if a bread IS IN FACT whole grain, it defeats the purpose if it contains sugar, high fructose corn syrup and a whole host of preservatives.

Test your Knowledge: Which Bread is Healthier?

These two breads both look healthy and wonderful. Both boast “high in fiber,” “no High Fructose Corn Syrup” and have that healthy look to them. Both say Whole Grains, and look to be a great bread to grace your table!

clip_image003

However, when we look at the label and ingredients, the bread on the left contains “100% whole Wheat flour,” while the one on the right, contains whole wheat flour AND regular white flour. This means that we as the consumer have no idea how much or how LITTLE whole grain it really has!

clip_image004

Food for thought!

Editor’s Note: The breads pictured here are not necessarily Kosher and weren’t examined based on the fact that they are. They were merely used for investigative purposes.

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Physical Health

 

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