Even the most health-conscious sometimes get confused about the nutritional value of some food groups available in the supermarket. One of the most contentious debates among nutritionists and food experts is whether whole-grain flour retains all of the nutrients from its initial form as kernels. But with most consumers not knowing the difference between whole grain and multigrain, a lot of them do not really know whether they are getting the best benefits from eating them.
Here is a primer on which the whole grain flour and unprocessed whole grains are healthier:
What is a whole grain?
Whole grain is an umbrella term for cereal crops that are used with the entire seed intact. Examples of whole grains include sorghum, brown rice, corn and buckwheat. To better understand whole grains, it is important to note that grains have three key edible parts which should be present for them to be considered whole
The first one is the bran. It is the outer layer of the kernel, which contains multiple layers of B vitamins, fibre and several important antioxidants.
The second one is the germ. Now calm yourself, this is not the germ that causes diseases. It is actually the part of the seed that eventually grows into a plant. Think of it as the embryo if the seed was an egg. It is a great source of protein, minerals, healthy fat and B vitamins.
Last is the endosperm. The endosperm makes up the largest portion of the kernel and has a high content of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates. It is the white part of the interior of most seeds.
What are the health benefits of whole grain?
One of the biggest benefits one can get from eating whole grains is fibre. The fibre content in whole grains comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Since adults need 25 to 35 grams of fibre every day, two cups of brown rice and four slices of dark rye bed should be enough to satisfy this need. Fibre is also particularly important to the body as it regulates blood sugar and reduces bad cholesterol and the risks of contracting colon cancer.
Can’t risk eating pork for fear of triggering other potential diseases? Whole grain presents a healthier alternative as it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
Fibre is also known among nutritionists to be helpful in proper digestion, as multiple studies have posited that people who have fibre-rich diets are less likely to need laxatives. The lactic acid in grains also promotes “good bacteria” in the large intestine, which aids in regular bowel movements.
In addition to that, if you are determined to lose weight, whole grains should be your best friend. It regulates weight, retools the distribution of fat in your body and has a longer satiating effect, which means it helps you feel full longer.
How is whole grain flour made?
While whole grain flour still contains all portions of the whole grains, the name is actually a bit misleading as some ingredients have already been added to it to make it into its intended form. In people’s quest to modernize the production of whole grain flour, some of the ingredients added to the ground grain actually neutralize a lot of its nutrients.
The more traditional way of preparing whole-grain flour does a better job of keeping fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. This process involves soaking, sprouting and fermenting the whole grains. While the composition of the kernels is changed, the vitamin content in the grains is enhanced and anti-nutrient properties are eliminated.
What makes one better than the other?
If you are going for a more natural way of getting nutrients, unprocessed whole grain is the right choice for you. Go organic and you will get the most of the nutritional benefits available with these foods. But if you want to be more versatile with your food choices and you want to mix it up a bit, whole grain flour is your best option.
The nutritional content between whole grain flour and unprocessed whole grains is not actually too far off. For those who want to use whole grain flour and still want to gain the optimal health benefits of the unprocessed whole grains, it is suggested that you supplement it with other fibre and vitamin-rich food like fruits.