Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
Just like most other foods, not all grains are created equal. It is important to make a distinction between whole and refined grains.
A whole grain consists of 3 main parts:
1. Bran: The hard outer layer of the grain. It contains fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
2. Germ: The nutrient-rich core that contains carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various phytonutrients. The germ is the embryo of the plant, the part that gives rise to a new plant.
3. Endosperm: The biggest part of the grain, contains mostly carbs (in the form of starch) and protein.
A refined grain has had the bran and germ removed, leaving just the endosperm.
Some grains (like oats) are usually eaten whole, whereas others are generally eaten refined.
Many grains are mostly consumed after they have been pulverized into very fine flour and processed into a different form. This includes wheat.
Important: Keep in mind that the whole grain label on food packaging can be highly misleading. These grains have often been pulverized into very fine flour and should have similar metabolic effects as their refined counterparts.
Examples include processed breakfast cereals, such as “whole grain” Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs. These foods are NOT healthy, even though they may contain small amounts of (pulverized) whole grains.
A whole grain contains the bran and germ of the grain, which provide fiber and all sorts of important nutrients. Refined grains have had these nutritious parts removed, leaving only the high-carb endosperm.