One of the main sources of carbohydrates is grains. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain fits into this food group.
However, you’ll quickly see that when these grains are heavily processed, they lose much of their nutrition quality. Basically, the milling process removes the outer bran layer, where much of the fiber is found, and may also remove the center of the kernel, known as the germ. This is where a lot of the vitamins and protein are found. This makes the flour very light and fluffy, but nutrient-poor.
Enriched white bread uses refined wheat flour, but has many nutrients added back in. One hundred percent whole wheat flour, on the other hand, has been harvested and processed to include the whole grain, which makes a denser flour and a nutty-flavored bread with all the naturally occurring minerals such as iron, B-vitamins, vitamin E and calcium.
Whole Grains come in many varieties:
Refined grains include:
Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole
Most Americans have no problem consuming enough carbohydrates from grains. However, they’re mostly refined varieties, which lack nutrient density. The Dietary Guidelines recommend making at least half your choices whole grains.
Choosing oatmeal, unsweetened cereal or corn tortillas for breakfast, as well as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and wheat pasta as staples in your diet make this easy to accomplish. Some enriched grains are better than others too; for example, some breakfast cereals may contain a rich supply of added vitamins and minerals where some refined snack foods do not.
Benefits of Grains
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, colon cancer, stroke and diabetes
- High folic acid content helps prevent neural tube defects
- Rich source of fiber supports healthy cholesterol levels and keeps the intestine running smoothly, which helps to prevent constipation and diverticulitis
- Helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories and a slower rise in blood sugar
- Naturally high in vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, iron, selenium and magnesium