We’ve all been told that whole grains are a vital part of any healthy diet, but what are they exactly and why are they so good for us?
Any time you stroll through your local grocery store, you see packaging in nearly every aisle touting products “Made With Whole Grains!” and that “Whole Grains are the First Ingredient!” But what do these claims actually mean? Why are whole grains so important? Aren’t all grains processed in the same way?
What Does “Whole Grain” Mean?
All kernels of grain are made up of three basic parts:
- Bran — The protective outer shell that is high in fiber and B vitamins
- Endosperm — Largest part of the interior of the grain, which contains starch, protein, and some vitamins and minerals
- Germ — Seed for a new plant, which contains B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, some protein, minerals and healthy oils.
According to the Whole Grains Council, for something to be labeled as a “whole grain” food, it must use 100% of the kernel. After processing, the final product must deliver the same balance of naturally occurring nutrients that were found in the original seed of grain.
On the flipside, when a product is labeled “enriched” or non-whole, it means that the bran and germ were removed during processing, leaving only the starchy endosperm behind. In order to add back the lost nutrients, the grain is usually fortified artificially. The artificial supplements are typically less healthful, and many vital nutrients are left out altogether.
According to FitLife.TV and the Whole Grains Council, the health benefits of minimally processed whole grains are wide-ranging: they’re naturally low in fat, rich in fiber, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and proteins. Keeping the kernel of grain intact ensures maximum nutritional value for the consumer, and whole grain products have even been linked to lowering the risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some forms of cancer.
The Grain Berry Difference
So now that you’re in the market for some healthy whole grains, you’re probably wondering which brands offer the best (and tastiest) foods packed with all of the whole grain benefits you need? In addition to providing all of the health benefits of minimally processed whole grains, Grain Berry products contain higher levels of naturally occurring antioxidants than just about anything else you can eat.
How is this possible? Grain Berry grows its own, special strain of high tannin sorghum bran. Sorghum contains natural polyphenolic compounds, which help plants fight against pests and disease — it’s also what gives sorghum its uniquely high natural antioxidant content. Grain Berry takes this antioxidant rich sorghum bran and adds it to the whole grain oats and whole grain wheat used in all of their products.
The result? A delicious line of whole grain products that boast a higher antioxidant count than than soybeans, red wine, and even blueberries.
Grain Berry 2-2-2 Plan
As powerful as whole grains are, they can’t do it all alone — in order to maintain a well-rounded diet, Grain Berry suggests following its 2-2-2 Plan: two servings of fruit, two servings of vegetables, and two servings of grains each day.
The USDA measures antioxidants in terms of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). By following the 2-2-2 plan, you can easily increase your ORAC intake to 10,000 units. If you choose to add other superfoods to your diet, such as prunes or kale, you may even be able to reach the 15,000 unit level.