Whole Grain Unrefined vs. Multigrain Refined Pasta and Bread

Farrah Sarafa - Columnist
Posted on Thursday 12th November 2009

“Multi-grain” refers to breads, cereal, or cookies that contain two or more kinds of grains. While multigrain products are healthier than white flour products, they’re composed of the weakest, least nutritious part of the grain: the endosperm. Unless you see the word “whole” instead of the deceptive “multi” on the package, the product’s ingredients have been stripped of their most nutritional components. It is important to differentiate between part-grain and whole grain food so that we can better nourish ourselves, sustain our energy and see past the marketing ploys.

Refined grains have been mechanically stripped of bran and germ, the most nutritional components. Protein, micronutrients, antioxidants and trace minerals are lost through milling flour, the grinding process that turns grain into flour. Whole grains such as whole wheat, bulgur, quinoa, oatmeal, kamut, rye and pumpernickel contain all three parts (bran, germ, and endosperm). Ingesting bran, the rich outer, protective fibrous layer and the germ are crucial to reaping highest nutritional values. Furthermore, eating whole grains can help prevent cancer, heart disease, constipation and diabetes. Whole grains are often a more valuable source of minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals than fruits and vegetables. Due to their remarkable ability to prevent chronic disease, weight gain, and high cholesterol, whole grains are essential to living longer, healthier lives lives.

Whole Foods offers many whole grain, high fiber cereals like Cascade Farms and Kashi. A few ways to integrate whole grains into your diet include whole grain spelt flour pastas, whole-wheat angel hair, and artichoke flour pasta, which are all high in protein and fiber. These flours are becoming more and more available, even in urban pizza shops, so the switch is simple. Ruben’s Empanadaseven carries whole wheat empanadas! Ezekial’s sprouted breads and cereals are also excellent alternatives. These enzyme-rich breads, produced by adding water to whole and sprouted grains, are arguably better for digestion than cooked whole grain products, as they expand both physically and nutritionally.

White bread and refined flour products were extremely popular and available in the 80’s, but more and more people are becoming aware of the health deficiencies in these bleached and processed foods--thanks largely in part to the green movement. We must begin by making the change at home and by selectively choosing restaurants based on their organic and whole grain menus.

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