Grains and Starches (G&S) are carbohydrates, which include pastas, breads, rice, cereals, and beans. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, peas and corn, are also considered grains and starches. As a general rule, the serving size for one G&S is 1/2 cup cooked pasta, rice, starchy vegetables or any other grain. Most cold cereals are 3/4 cup and breads are about 1 oz or 1 slice. Eating Free highly encourages carbohydrate intake, especially whole grains. You may have heard that whole grains are “good for our health” and can “reduce the risk of many diseases, such as coronary heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.”
What Whole Grains Are
Whole grains are grains containing the entire grain seed or kernel made of three components: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Bran
is the outer layer of the grain. It is the tough skin, which protects the kernel from the elements. The bran contains Vitamin B, fiber, and many important antioxidants. Germ
is the part of the grain considered the embryo. The germ can sprout into a new plant when fertilized by pollen. The germ portion of the grain contains many B vitamins, some proteins, minerals, and healthy fats. Endosperm
is the food supply of the grain. It is the largest portion of the kernel and provides the nutrients needed for the plant’s survival. The endosperm contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains
The difference between whole grains and refined grains is that whole grains include all three parts of the grain, while refined grains do not include the bran or germ (these are removed during processing, leaving only the endosperm). With the removal of the bran and germ, twenty-five percent of the grain’s protein and about seventeen key nutrients are lost.
Whole Grain Benefits
Whole grains should be an integral part of our grain intake for many different reasons. Studies have found that consuming at least three servings of whole grains each day can provide the following benefits:
• Reduce the risk of stroke by about 30-35%
• Reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by about 20-30%
• Reduce the risk of heart disease by about 25-30%
• Reduce the risk of obesity