With the constantly evolving subject of nutrition, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. One day we’re told all carbs are bad, but then we see handmade pasta is becoming all the rage. It seems like everyday we're told conflicting ideas, and it may begin to influence our day-to-day choices. Well we’re here to set a few things straight, starting with grains.
At DEFINE foods we believe that the most important nutrition advice is simple: make sure you’re eating primarily whole foods with lots of color and variety, and you’ll be on the right path. With this blueprint in mind, we choose to include whole grains in our daily diet.
Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
First, let’s get to know the difference between whole and refined grains:
Whole grains are a satisfying and nutritious food that deserve a spot in your day-to-day lifestyle. Whole grains are made of three parts - the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Most of the nutritional value of grains lies in the bran and the germ. It’s these two regions that contain all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that make whole grains so good for you. Whole grains are digested slowly, keep your blood sugar levels more stable, and help prevent the “hangry” feeling we can experience if our blood sugar drops too low.
Refined grains, on the other hand, provide much less nutritional value and are more likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. Refined grains go through different processes that remove the bran and germ. This leaves just the endosperm, which contains mostly carbs. Refined grains are typically found in processed foods like white breads, pastas, and store-bought desserts, but luckily, if you’re focused on eating real, whole foods, these can be easily avoided.
Whole Grain Benefits
When sticking to whole grains, you’re able to reap all of their benefits. Some of the key nutrients found in whole grains include:
-Dietary Fiber: The bran part of a whole grain provides all the fiber, which helps to support a healthy digestion.
-Vitamins: Whole grains are surprisingly high in B vitamins which helps boost immunity and increase energy levels.
-Protein: Whole grains provide a substantial amount of protein per serving (16.9 g of protein per 100 g of oats!)
-Minerals: Grains are a good source of zinc, magnesium, manganese, and iron.
-Antioxidants: While they are no blueberries, whole grains contain several compounds that act as antioxidants.
Other benefits of enjoying whole grains include getting sustained and high-quality energy, healthy digestive habits, and a more balanced diet.
Sources of Whole Grains
When you think of whole grains, you probably immediately imagine oats or brown rice. And while those are great staples to have in your pantry, there are so many more whole grains waiting for you to discover them. Great options that we love to incorporate in DEFINE foods recipes include:
-and bulgur, just to name a few!
Even popcorn, when prepared the right way, is a great whole grain source. Try popping whole kernels in a little bit of hot coconut oil, then top with a little sea salt. This is a much healthier rendition of what you may find at the movie theater, and is just as satisfying!
At DEFINE foods, we love whole grains so much that we’ve included them in several of our meal offerings. From sweet to savory dishes, whole grains can easily become a part of each meal. For mornings, we know the benefits of starting your day with a healthy, well-balanced breakfast, so our Cacao Grain Bowl is a top favorite. It includes a blend of rolled oats, chia seeds, and cacao nibs to give you lasting energy with the perfect touch of sweetness. For lunch or dinner, we’re always looking for that added boost of plant-based protein that quinoa provides. Our Kale + Quinoa with Citrus Tahini Salad and our Greek Quinoa with Kale and Almond Feta Salad both leave you feeling satisfied, rejuvenated, and ready to finish your day strong.
If you’re ready to start experimenting with including more whole grains in your day-to-day routine, try out our Week of Salads or Personalized Meal Program. You’ll be offered meals that work with your schedule so you can reap all the benefits of whole grains without any of the preparation.