Baiba Opule

Brown rice and whole wheat have been well integrated as pantry staples over the last decade, and even quinoa is getting easier to pronounce. What makes one grain better than the other? We talk to, Pooja Vyas a registered dietician, to get to the bottom of what makes whole grains better than others.

There’s not actually a definition of what ancient grains are, Vyas said.

Whole grains just a determinant for grains that have not been processed, refined or altered over time.

Modern grains are: white rice, wheat and corn for instance. Whereas whole grains are: brown rice, quinoa, farro and barley to name a few.

“Whole is the grain the way it is naturally, modern grains are processed and refined which in turn defines the grain’s nutritional properties,” she said.

These grains are more nutrient dense and in turn keep you fuller longer. This is because the part of the grain, dense in fiber and nutrients, the bran is separated from the grain.

Paying close attention to labels when buying whole grain products is vital, because of marketing hype and the fact that whole grains aren’t technically classified as such by any organization.

Vyas said the key is the amount of dietary fiber that’s listed in the product’s nutritional values label. Anything is better than three grams of fiber, but she said men should be having between 27 and 30 grams daily and women about 25 grams.

“It’s a red flag if there’s no fiber, whole grains will naturally be richer,” Vyas said.

The USDA recommends half of an individual’s intake of grains be from whole grains. However, Vyas said one of the main misconceptions and complaints is that ancient and whole grains are difficult to find or might taste funny.

Vyas suggests incorporating grains into soups, salads and breads and trying out different grains. One grain isn’t necessarily better than the other.

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