Are Refined Grains Healthier Than Whole Grains?

Some people can’t eat grains. For those people, most grains aren’t healthy options. For the rest of us, whole grains are the best option. They’re different from refined grains because they contain all three parts of the seed. They have the germ, fiber, and endosperm. Refined grains might sound classier—since they contain the word refined in their name—but they’re definitely not healthier than whole grains. Refined grains only contain the starchy endosperm. It’s what’s left after the bran and germ were removed during milling.

All the nutrition is in the bran and germ.

Grains are seeds. The most nutritious part of the grain is the germ. It’s where the plant’s embryo is located. The germ feeds the embryo until it becomes a plant. It contains folate, vitamin E, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and zinc. It has both essential fatty acids and fatty alcohols. The high fat content of the germ shortens the shelf life of grain, so it’s removed. The bran is a source of fiber and other nutrients. Removing it gives a better texture and lightens the color of the flour.

What’s left behind is the endosperm.

The endosperm contains few nutrients and is mostly calories. It’s easy to digest and has a high glycemic level, so it can spike blood sugar levels. One of the reasons is the lack of fiber. It’s taken out when the bran is removed. Fiber slows the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Vitamins and minerals can be added to refined grains to boost nutritional value, but fiber can’t, or the final product loses the smooth consistency.

Whole grain bread has many nutritional benefits.

Besides slowing the absorption of glucose, the fiber in whole grains improves cholesterol levels, prevents certain types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer, improves the gut microbiome, aids in the absorption of minerals, helps prevent hemorrhoids, acid reflux, and diverticulitis, and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. The fiber in whole grain bread also helps you lose weight by making you feel fuller longer.

  • Grains can be hard to digest, but proper processing helps. Soak the grain, ferment it, or sprout it to make it and products made with it easier to digest.
  • There’s a link between obesity and the consumption of refined grains. While part of it occurs because of lack of fiber, many more calories are consumed in food with added sugar, which traditionally uses refined flour.
  • Certain health conditions can be exacerbated by eating whole grains. One of those is Crohn’s disease. When a flare-up occurs, eliminating whole grain bread for sourdough bread helps.
  • If you’re increasing fiber in your diet by switching to whole grain products, take it slowly. Like exercise, you don’t go from running a half block to running ten miles overnight. Your body has to adjust to the change.

For more information, contact us today at Wellness On A Dime Coaching

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