Know all the details on whole grains, lentils and legumes and their importance for health.
Whole grains, legumes and lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber. Whole pulses contain high fibers, both insoluble and soluble. Because of the presence of complex carbohydrates, lentils are digested and absorbed slowly.
Whole grains are the edible part of grains viz. inner layer (the germ), the middle layer (endosperm) and the outer layer (bran) intact. The germ and bran gives us vitamin E, vitamins B, and valuable minerals like zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. They also contain phytochemicals, lignans and antioxidants.
Milling them removes their bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm which is a starch. Wheat, rice, corn, grams, oats are some of the examples of whole grains. Whole-meal bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain whole grains. Oats, barley, and rye are particularly rich in soluble fiber.
Whole cereals are good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, proteins, minerals and low in fat. They provide most of the energy required by the body. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of protein content and other health-giving compounds are lost in the refining process. White flour or maida is not good for our health as it is a refined cereal produced from whole wheat after removing most of the germ and the bran.
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals and are Heart Friendly. Minerals such as magnesium present in the cereals protects against heart disease. A low intake of magnesium may lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Americans rarely eat whole grains. They always buy white bread. Breads marked as rye, multi-grain, stone-ground and oatmeal breads are all white breads but made to look like whole grains.
Increase intake of whole-grains and cereals in your diet to protect your heart. They may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, and also possibly cancers of the mouth and stomach.
Read the labels: Look for the whole grain label. Prefer products with whole grain as the first ingredient. If it doesn't say whole grain, then it is probably not. "Bleached," "enriched," or "refined" mean that the grain has been processed. According to the Whole Grains Council, the symbol on the label indicate the level of whole grain content:
- 100 percent/Excellent: at least 16 grams of whole grain per labeled serving and no refined grain.
- Excellent Source: at least 16 grams of whole grain per labeled serving.
- Good Source: at least 8 grams of whole grain per labeled serving.
"Wheat flour" on labels means it contains only 25 percent whole wheat flour.
How Much Whole Grains Daily?
You should eat at least 3 more servings of whole grains daily. One serving is 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 1/2 whole wheat muffin or 1/2 cup of any of cooked oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, polenta or brown rice.