What makes a grain a “whole grain?”
A whole grain is a grain or grain product that contains all 3 of the main parts (endosperm, bran, and germ). The grain has not been stripped of important nutrients. The bran, or outer protective layer of the grain, contains the fiber and a large amount of B vitamins. The germ is the embryo of the seed and it contains the unsaturated fat, vitamin E, protein, minerals, and B vitamins. Finally, the endosperm is made of mostly carbohydrates and B vitamins.
Why are whole grains beneficial to our health?
Since the bran and most of the germ are removed during the process of refining and milling of grains, the majority of fiber, minerals, and vitamins are lost. This is why it is crucial to eat whole grains so that you are not robbed of the many health benefits naturally found in “whole grains.”
Why are whole grains important in a gluten-free lifestyle?
People with celiac disease can find many GF products in the grocery stores. However, many of these products are based with cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch and/or white rice flour. The nutrient composition of these is significantly less dense than those made with “whole grains.” For this reason, people following a gluten-free lifestyle must try to incorporate whole grains into their diet to get an adequate intake of fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
How do I prepare whole grains?
Cooking whole grains involes rinsing the grains in cold water, adding them to an appropriate amount of water (or stock, juice, or milk), bringing the mixture to a boil, and simmering covered for a specific amount of time.
How do I store whole grains?
Whole grains have a shorter shelf life than refined grains. They are best kept in airtight containers. It is best to store them in a cool, dark and dry environment. Most whole grains can be stored at room temperature for up to one year under these specific conditions. Millet and oats are best used within 2-3 months. Whole grain flours are best kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year.