Whole grain

From ArticleWorld


Whole grains are grains that have not been refined, usually to bleached whiteness. Whole grains contain the bran, germ, and endosperm of the cereal. These are the parts that store large quantities of dietary fiber, vitamins, especially vitamin E and B vitamins, and dietary minerals, antioxidants, and protein. Whole grain products are thus considerably more nutritious than refined, and are often said to be more 'filling', which means a person has to eat less to reach satiety. Whole grains are a major component of the contemporary healthy eating movement, as well as part of nutritionists' recommended diet for weight loss. Whole grain products include bran cereals, brown rice, whole pulses, and whole wheat bread and pasta.

Dietary fiber

Dietary fiber is now considered to be one of the most vital nutritional elements in maintaining a steady glycemic index. Unlike food made from refined flour, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and baked potatoes require the body to work more to digest them, keeping blood sugar levels fairly steady. Constant spikes and troughs in glycemic index are associated with diabetes, obesity, digestive tract disorders, varieties of cancer, and heart disease. Dietary fiber together with antioxidants are said to work actively to protect the body. Whole grains are complemented with high fiber and antioxidant vegetables such as broccoli and skin-on potato, and fruit such as dried apricots and figs, and fresh berries.

Whole grain and social class

Ironically, in developed countries today paying extra for whole grains marks a person as health-conscious, trendy even, solidly middle class or upwardly mobile, while obesity and excessive consumption of refined foods such as white bread and pasta are cultural markers of the working class. Yet before the mid-19th century and the advances in food processing resulting from the Industrial Revolution, white bread was a luxury only available to the wealthy classes. The widespread and affordable availability of 'genteel' white flour products caused such a change in eating behaviours, that, as written accounts from the time tell us, as recently as the 1940s in England, when rationing was strict and goods like white flour and white sugar was scarce, people would go hungry before considering the use of whole grains, which were cheaper.