Goodness of Grains

The moment we think of a healthy diet, we know that it should contain right amount of vegetables, fruits, grains and protein. Many of us are aware of the role of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet,but when it comes to Grains we are not clear. What is the role of Grains in a nutritious diet and what kind of
grains should one consume?
What are Grains? Why Grains are needed?
Grains are technically seed bearing portion of the grass. There are some pseudo grains, which are not botanically the seed head of grass, but they are still considered as grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. Grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are one of the three major nutrients essential for our body. Grains also contain good amounts of key minerals and vitamins and are naturally low in fat. The important nutrients available in Grains are:
Vitamins: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin E.
Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium.
Carbohydrates: Dietary fiber, Starch.
Other than these they contain a little amount of protein and good fats.
Most commonly used Grains throughout the world are rice and wheat. Other grains commonly used include barley, oats, rye, corn, millet and sorghum. Quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat is also considered as grains in kitchen, but they are called pseudo grains. Variety of grains adds more nutrients to the diet. The health benefits of Grains are numerous. Brown rice helps in reducing LDL cholesterol; Buckwheat is great for fighting hypertension and high blood pressure; Rye is rich in antioxidants and helps in controlling blood sugar; Barley helps in reducing the chances of getting diabetes; Amaranth and Quinoa are good sources of protein. 
Types of Grains
The common terms we hear related to grains are “Whole Grains”, “Refined Grains” and “Enriched Grains. What do they really mean? Generally each Grain has 3 key parts other than the inedible covering. Those three parts are bran, germ and endosperm. Bran is a good source of fiber. Germ contains vitamins, minerals and some amount of protein. Endosperm contains starch and small amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Whole grains contain all the three parts; bran, germ and endosperm. Because of this Whole grains are considered highly nutritious than refined grains. Whole grains are available in whole, cracked, split and ground forms.
Refined grains contain only the endosperm; the bran and germ in the grain are removed by the milling process. Through this process many nutrients are removed from the grains including fiber. Refined grains have a fine texture and they stay fresh for more days. Good examples for refined grains are white rice and white bread.
Enriched grain means, adding back some of the nutrients to the grains which are lost during the refining process. During enrichment process, B vitamins, calcium, iron etc. can be added to the grain. But fibers cannot be added. Some countries require these enriched grains because of lack of certain nutrients in their soil.
These are the reasons why Grains gained an important place in food pyramid. No matter what one’s
taste and eating habits are, grains can be a healthier addition to the diet, especially for vegetarians.
- Anu

5 Responses to “Goodness of Grains”

  1. Venugopal Says:

    Dear Anu,

    Thank you for writing this article. This article has increased the awareness (at least to me) about the importance of Grains in our diet. The amount of nutritional values these Grains add to our diet in the form of Vitamins, Proteins is some thing, which cannot be overlooked.

    After i read the article, “Goodness of Grains” seem to be the perfect title. Thank you once again for your effort.

    Regards,
    -Venu

  2. Sriram Says:

    Dear Anu,
    Thank you for sharing this article. As Venu said, it really improved my understanding of the grains and their importance in the diet. The way you are explaining is also very simple and easy to understand. Looking forward to your next article.

    Thanking you,
    Sriram

  3. Priya Says:

    Dear Anu,
    It’s a very nice and informative article. We use grains daily and never questioned this way. From now on we will be consuming grains with more awareness of its nutrients. Your article is always crisp and has an impact in conveying the message.

    Thank you,
    Priya

  4. Sanjai Says:

    Dear Anu,
    It is very nice to know about what we all need to know about grain and its importance. Many times we read the label and don’t know what they mean or what is important for us. This article certainly helps us in picking the right one. This article was not only informative but well written. As pointed out by others it is crisp. It is easy to follow due to its simplicity. Great Job.

    Thanks,
    Sanjai

  5. Shankar Says:

    Dear Anu,
    Thank you very much for the knowledge & importance of Grains. People commonly eat food based on their taste preferences unless they have restrictions. But whoever reads your article will surely consume food with awareness. With awareness of food comes discipline in eating habits. With discipline comes the benefit of good health. What a noble service you are doing. Thank you very much.

    Personally i have wondered often why do we eat rice or Wheat as the main food. But after reading this article it is very clear to me the reason & the importance of Grains in food pyramid. My awareness has increased and i will be eating rice or wheat or other grains with a great understanding and appreciation.

    Best,
    Shankar

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