Holy Moly Whole Grains!

Holy Moly Whole Grains!

For those of you with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, carbohydrates are often a point of contention. Some of you may choose to limit your daily carb intake, while some of you may decide to focus less on your daily carb intake and work on eating carbohydrates that are minimally processed/less refined. If you are uncertain what dietary changes to make, a good starting point may be to focus on increasing your daily intake of whole grains.

What is a whole grain?

A whole grain is a grain that contains all 3 of its original parts. These parts include:1

  • The Bran
    • The bran is the outer layer of the grain.
    • Nutrients in the bran: antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber
  • The Germ
    • “The germ is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant.” 1
    • Nutrients in the germ: B vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and a small amount of protein.
  • The Endosperm
    • The endosperm supplies the germ with energy and is the largest part of the gain.
    • Nutrients in the endosperm: carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. 1

What is a refined grain?

  • A refined gain is grain that is missing one or more of its 3 original parts.1 Food such as white flour, white rice, and white bread are considered refined grains.
  • According to the Whole Grains Counsel, “Refining a grain removes about a quarter of the protein in a grain, and half to two thirds or more of a score of nutrients, leaving the grain a mere shadow of its original self.” 1

What is an enriched grain?

  • When grains were first refined, several nutrient deficiencies developed. As a result, most grains that have been refined are now required to be enriched with certain nutrients (i.e. B vitamins).
  • “Enrichment adds back fewer than a half dozen of the many missing nutrients, and does so in proportions different than they originally existed.”1

Examples of whole grain foods: 1

What are the recommendations for whole grains?

  • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend: half of daily grain intake come from whole grains.2
    • USDA recommended (minimum) daily intake for whole grains:3
      • Woman age 31-50: 3 ounces
      • Woman age 51 and older: 3 ounces
      • Men age 31-50: 3 ½ ounces
      • Men age 51 and older: 3 ounces
      • Examples of 1 ounce:
        • 1 slice whole wheat bread
        • ½ cup brown rice
        • ½ cup whole wheat pasta
        • ½ cup oatmeal
      • The 2017 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recommends the following: “As for all Americans, individuals with diabetes should be encouraged to replace refined carbohydrates and added sugars with whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.” 4

Health benefits of eating whole grains:

  • higher in fiber
  • lower glycemic index
  • reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes5,6
  • reduced risk of obesity6
  • reduce risk of cardiovascular disease6

Tips for increasing your daily intake of whole grains:7

  • Check the ingredient list on packaged foods. Look for the word whole at the beginning of the ingredient list.
    • “…choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first on the list. Look for whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, or whole rye.” 7
  • Replace white rice with brown rice.
  • Add whole grains such as barley and/or quinoa to casseroles, stews, and soups.
  • When baking, replace half of the white flour in the recipe with whole-wheat flour.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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