By Yael Brender
So what exactly are grains? Grains are basically just fruits of the grass family, and they are good for you. When we talk about grains, we mean that small, hard, dry little seed that are harvested and treated and then used to make food like bread, rice and cereal.
There are three sections of the grain, and all three of them contain things you definitely should have in your diet. The bran layer, or outer later, contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The endosperm, or inner layer, contains starchy carbohydrates and proteins. And the germ, or the embryo, feeds off the starchy carbohydrates in the endosperm and is itself abundant in vitamin E, B-group vitamins and minerals.
The Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council recommends eating 48g of grain-based foods per day. If possible, the majority of grain consumption should be wholegrain; wholegrains have more nutrients, not to mention they have more flavour. Furthermore, grains can help your with regular bowel function and help fight off heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers.
The new much-hyped Paleo diet advises ditching the grains in favour of fruit and vegies. The Paleo diet claims that on a calorie-by-calorie basis, grains are lousy sources of fibre, minerals and B vitamins. We cut out grains for other reasons too; food allergies and to lower carbohydrate consumption are the most popular. But before you rule them out completely, consider just how vital grains can be to your health.
The Paleo diet claims that on a calorie-by-calorie basis, grains are lousy sources of fibre, minerals and B vitamins.
The new and controversial assumption that is making grains unpopular is that they contain anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients into the body. Anti-nutrients are found to some degree in almost all foods; mostly because they have evolved over time to stop animals from eating them. But due to the process of domestication, their levels are greatly reduced in modern crops.
Additionally, anti-nutrients can be eliminated through correct preparation, such as fermentation, soaking or malting. Cooking the grains will also eradicate the anti-nutrients. And if you think that only grains that contain anti-nutrients, then you’re mistaken. You can also find them in all nuts, seeds, beans and leafy vegetables. And if you try to cut out everything on that list, then you’ll be magnesium deficient before you can say, ‘But the Paleo diet said so.”
Accredited Practising Dietician Sonya Stanley has some tips for packing healthy grains into your diet. Eating bread can make all the difference; the denser and the browner the bread, the more packed with grains it will be. Grainier bread provides dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins. If you don’t fancy the carbohydrates in bread, then try rolls, flat breads, pits and small crackers that contain wholegrains such as linseed, oat bran and soy.
With breakfast cereal, make sure you check the nutrition information panel to and compare with other varieties to find the one with the most fibre per 100g. If rice makes you happy, the look for a low-GI label in the SunRice Naturally range. Alternatively, grab some naturally sweet and mildly nutty black rice instead. Pick up some wholemeal pasta, rice noodles, polenta and couscous. Ditch the coleslaw and replace it with tabouleh – it’s packed with bulgur, a totally natural wheat grain. Quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain, but throw that in the basket too and sprinkle it on your cereal. Use barley to make a scrumptious addition to any salad. Spice up your soup or smoothies with chia, and enjoy a great source of omeaga-3 fats.
Make your own porridge from rolled oats and start the day off right; the nutritional profile of ‘instant oats’ just doesn’t measure up, Stanley assures us. The small amount of effort with a cup of oats will reward you with 6g of protein, 4g of fibre, 70% of your daily magnesium needs and a excellent start to the day. But our friend the oat can do more than help you be healthy on the inside – they can benefit your skin too. Two handfuls of rolled oats in a pair of tied-off pantyhose can be used in the shower as a facial cleanser. The essential fatty acids and soothing, anti-inflammatory compounds are the perfect solution to itchy, dry flaky, oily or greasy skin.
So don’t kick grains to the kerb just because the Paleo diet is in right now. Grains have a lot to offer you, so embrace them and let them into your diet. Your health might just thank you.
By Bondi Beauty Intern Yael Brender
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