Include Whole Grains in the Diet for Carbohydrates and Fiber

Written by on July 31, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Include Whole Grains in the Diet for Carbohydrates and Fiber

Grain products have been around a long time and have been incorporated into many cuisines around the world. Because of advanced agricultural techniques and transportation, Americans can enjoy and benefit from a wide range of these products. No longer are we limited to wheat and oats, but such exotics as Indian Basmati rice, couscous, quinoa and polenta can grace our tables.

Benefits of Grain Consumption

Grain products provide an easy, inexpensive way to include good nutrition in the diet. Whole grains are rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and contain a number of vitamins and minerals. Grain products are low in fat and are a good source of complete protein when combined with beans and other legumes. Nutritionists recommend that 55 to 60 percent of total daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes and dried legumes. Although breads and pastas tend to be fattening, there are a number of healthy, reduced calorie breads and pastas on the market today. Regular consumption of whole grain foods is associated with a reduction of coronary heart disease.

Choose Whole Grains Beware of Refined Grains

Products made from whole grains retain most of their nutritional value. They also have a high fiber content which is beneficial for the bowels. Refined grains are stripped of their nutritional value. The germ and outer covering of the grain that contains the nutrition is removed during milling , or refining. These grains then have to be fortified with calcium, iron and other nutrients. Although these nutrients are added, refined products still contain fewer vitamins and minerals and have less fiber than whole grain products.

Common Grains

The following grains have been utilized in various forms throughout the world. They provide a good source of niacin, riboflavin, B vitamins, iron and calcium.

  • Barley is a Middle East staple. It is a good source of iron and niacin.
  • Corn is America’s #1 field crop and forms the basis of a wide range of foods. Corn is rich in potassium, phosphorous, folate and a number of other minerals. It is also high in fiber.
  • Millet, a grain derived from Asia and North Africa can be cooked an eaten as a grain or made into bread. Millet is a good source of magnesium and manganese.
  • Oats are a popular grain used in a number of dishes. Oatmeal and oat bran are a significant source of dietary fiber.
  • Rice is a staple food of many countries. Brown rice is healthier than white rice as it retains all of its minerals, vitamins and minerals including the B vitamins, calcium and phosphorous.
  • Rye has not been around as long as the older grains but its usage has become popular in bread making. Rye is a good source of dietary fiber.
  • Wheat is, perhaps, the most widely used grain in the world. It is used in cereals, breads, pastas and other foods. Whole wheat contains approximately 11 vitamins and 16 minerals. The wheat germ is an excellent source of vitamin E as well as the B vitamins.

Benefits of Carbohydrates and Fiber

Incorporating a variety of whole grains into the diet is one of best ways to ensure an adequate intake of carbohydrates and fiber. Carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy. They also benefit digestion by creating healthy bacteria in the intestines. Carbohydrates help increase calcium levels. Fiber is undigested carbohydrates. Fiber is necessary for the proper functioning of the bowels. It is also recognized for its prevention of heart disease.

What are your favorite whole grains? Feel free to share below.

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About the Author

Loraine R. Dégraff

Loraine is a passionate health and wellness writer and is particularly interested in working with the body through diet and nutrition. She currently lives in Queens, NY with her husband and 5 children and would love to talk "health" with you. View all posts with Health Tips.