Friday, July 19, 2013

Do I choose multigrains or whole grains, and what's the difference anyway??

all manner of grains
It isn't news to anyone that we should be consuming fiber in our diet.  There are many foods that contain fiber, such as fruit and vegetables.  Another source is through grains.  For those who are not gluten intolerant, adding grains to your daily intake can be very good. 

I, for one, have always been a bit confused when it comes to words like multigrain, whole grain, whole wheat, and bleached flour.  So I decided to do my homework and find out the LD (low down)on this food.  It turns out that there is much to know about the humble grain.

The first important fact is that whole grain and multigrain are not interchangeble terms.

grains of wheat
Composition of grain
To begin with, whole grain simply means that all the parts of the grain are kept intact and consumed. For example a whole grain of wheat, often called a wheat berry is composed of the bran, the germ and the endosperm.  If you are eating a truly whole grain, you will eat all of its parts, reaping the benefits of  all of its included vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Multigrain means simply that more than one grain is used, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the whole grain is used.  It is possible that the multigrain item you are considering is actually made using refined white flour that does not include the germ and the bran.  In that case there is little nutritional value. Coloring can also be added to the product to give the impression that the whole grain is used.  Please read the label and look for the word "whole" as in whole grain oats, wheat, rye, etc.

For those of you who like your white bread, be advised that the only part of the grain that is used in making it is the endosperm.  The endosperm is the largest part of the grain, and is comprised of mostly starch, with little to no nutritional value.  Bleached flour is the "cleanest" looking of all the flours.  Can you guess how it is made so white?  I'm sorry to say that when they say bleached, they mean bleached!  It is literally processed using chlorine bleach.   If you are making your favorite pie crust or homemade bread, consider using unbleached flour instead.  That way you aren't putting the added chemicals into your fine baking.

As with all foods bought in the store, the best way to know what you are getting is to read the labels.  For the longest time, I wasn't a label reader.  When I began my quest to be better informed about what I was putting in our company products and in my home cooked meals, I started  reading and, let me tell you, what I read opened my eyes.  

I sincerely encourage you to have your eyes wide open as well when you make your purchases.  Don't forget that it is market season, so buy local and buy fresh.  Enjoy!!

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