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Grains

 

In this era of the low-carb diet, the health benefits of grains whole grains, that is are sometimes overlooked. Since prehistoric times, grain products have been one of the basic foodstuffs of agrarian societies. Almost every culture has a staple grain around which its cuisine is centered. Today, thanks to modern agricultural techniques and efficient transportation, we can sample a huge variety of grain products. Despite this proliferation of grains from around the world, we still tend to make the greatest use of our native wheat, which is ground into flour and made into bread and other baked goods. To a lesser extent, we also consume corn, rice, oats, barley, and millet, and many exotic grains.

 

Whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. They are also very low in fat, and when eaten in combination with beans and other legumes, grains are a good source of complete protein.

 

Nutritionists urge us to eat more grain products as a healthy substitute for high-fat foods, and recommend we include plenty of grain-based starches, such as breads, cereals, pasta, and rice in our diets, along with dried beans, peas, and other legumes.

 

DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, AND CANCER PROTECTION

There is a growing awareness of the importance of the quality, as much as the quantity, of grains in the diet. An increased consumption of whole grains reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

Data from the Physicians Health Study, in which more than 86,000male physicians participated, showed a significant reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and death from all causes in the men eating the greatest quantity of whole-grain cereals compared with those of the men eating the fewest servings of whole-grain cereals.

 

the Iowa Women's Health Study followed almost 35,000 women aged 55 to 69 and found that the more whole grains eaten, the lower the risk of dying from heart disease. Another study found that adults with the highest intake of whole grains were 35 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake There is also growing evidence that eating whole grains instead of refined varieties can reduce your risk of developing cancer.

 

COMMON GRAIN PRODUCTS

Barley, a staple food in the Middle East, is known to North Americans mainly as a soup ingredient. It has a somewhat sweet taste that makes it an interesting addition to casseroles, pilafs, and salads. Barley is a source of soluble fiber as well as B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

 

Bulgur is cracked and roasted whole-wheat kernels, it has a nutty flavor and can be used to make pilaf or stuffing. Couscous is made from durum wheat, the hardest type, which contains the most gluten. It cooks fast and is light, making it a good choice for quick meals. Wheat berries are the whole kernels of wheat and can be use as a cereal or in baked goods.

 

Corn, or maize, and millet, an ancient grain of Asia and North Africa, are gluten-free; people with celiac disease can eat products made from them. Millet is made into tasty flat breads and can also be used in pilaf or as a stuffing for vegetables. Toasting millet in a dry skillet before cooking adds a nutty flavor.

 

Kamut is related to the wheat family, has more fiber and protein than many grains. Its buttery flavor makes it great in salads.

 

Oats are used in breakfast cereals and baked goods. Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels. It also helps the body utilize insulin more efficiently, an important asset in controlling diabetes.

 

Quinoa, an ancient grain, is lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein than most grains. This fluffy grain is sold as whole gain or as pasta and is great in salads. It is tolerated by people on gluten-free diets.

 

Rice is the staple food for about half the world's population. Brown rice is preferable, because it is unrefined and high in B vitamins an fiber. It also has some calcium and phosphorus. Long-train brown rice is closer in taste to the refined white rice that most North Americans customarily eat. Short-grain brown rice has a heartier texture and a nuttier flavor. White rice is stripped of its outer layers and is mostly starch with a little protein; some types are fortified with thiamine.

 

Rye contains some gluten, which is the reason rye bread and pumpernickel breads tend to be heavy and moist.

 

Wheat is one of the most widely consumed grains in the world. If, during milling, the bran (outer husk) and germ (located at the base of the grain) are removed, the end product is less nutritious than if left whole. Whole-grain wheat or whole wheat is a better choice, containing the bran as well as the germ of the wheat. the germ of the wheat kernels is a concentrated source of many nutrients including B vitamins, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber.

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