Top 5 Healthiest Grains

It’s always a great idea to substitute refined carbohydrates (white pasta, rice and bread) with whole grains. Here’s why:

  • They contain larger amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
  • They contain complex carbohydrates, that break down slower, resulting in a smaller insulin spike and glucose increase in the blood, keeping you full for longer as well.
  • Whole grains contain more fiber, which is great for digestion, heart and gut health.
  • Better protein quality

Top 5 Whole Grains:

Bulgur

Bulgur wheat is an ancient grain that packs a nutritional punch into each nutty bite. The Old Testament mentions bulgur, and the wheat was popular in the ancient Mediterranean region. Bulgur mixes well with herbs and vegetables and is the main ingredient in popular Middle Eastern dishes such as tabbouleh (bulgur salad) and kibbeh (a kind of meatball).

People make bulgur by boiling, drying, and grinding kernels of wheat. The result is a firm grain that you can eat plain like rice or couscous, or an ingredient for soups, recipes, and baked goods. Cooks usually boil bulgur, but it can also be fried, baked, roasted.

Bulgur wheat’s health benefits come mainly from its high-fiber content as a whole grain. High-fiber grains help you with digestion, gut health, and weight management. The FDA even affirms that high-fiber, low-fat diets help reduce the risk of cancer and prevent coronary heart disease. [1]

Oats

Oats also contain beta-glucan fiber which can lower cholesterol and help support the immune system. Oats boast polyphenol compounds that have antioxidant properties in laboratory studies. Besides the age-old favorite oatmeal for breakfast, oats can be added as a binder to meatloaf and burgers. Oats also work well in baked goods including oatmeal cookies, as a crunchy topping to crisps and crumbles, and even in casserole dishes.

Barley

Barley is a fiber powerhouse. Hulled barley has more fiber-rich bran than pearled barley, but both contain beta-glucan soluble fiber that slows the absorption of glucose, and helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, thus providing sustained energy throughout the day. Barley also contains selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Barley is great added to soups or used to make a pilaf. It can even be made into a hot breakfast cereal. Hulled barley will take more time to cook than pearled barley (which is not a whole grain), about 50 to 60 minutes.

Amaranth

Gluten-free amaranth is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids in proportions that humans need, including lysine which other grains tend to lack. Additionally, it’s a good source of minerals such as iron and selenium. In South America, amaranth is popped like miniature popcorn. Most kids love pasta, and amaranth can be used as a substitute for couscous or orzo. Use amaranth flour to make tasty baked goods such as zucchini bread, carrot cake or banana nut muffins and pancakes.

Quinoa

Like amaranth, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids in the proper portions and is gluten-free. Moreover, quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium and a good source of iron and folate. And, quinoa is easy to make. While not required, toasting quinoa before boiling it in liquid enhances flavor, as does cooking it in vegetable broth. Quinoa can be made in a rice cooker, as well. Before cooking, use a fine mesh strainer to rinse the quinoa to remove compounds called saponins that can give the quinoa a bitter taste. Quinoa is fun for kids because it pops in the mouth when chewed and comes in several colors: beige, red, black and even purple. Mix quinoa with beans or nuts for a tasty side dish, or add to salads and stir-fries. [2]

Bonus: Buckwheat

Buckwheat belongs to a group of foods commonly called pseudocereals.

Pseudocereals are seeds that are consumed as cereal grains but don’t grow on grasses. Other common pseudocereals include quinoa and amaranth.

Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is thus gluten-free.

It’s used in buckwheat tea or processed into groats, flour, and noodles. The groats, used in much the same way as rice, are the main ingredient in many traditional European and Asian dishes.

Buckwheat has become popular as a health food due to its high mineral and antioxidant content. Its benefits may include improved blood sugar control.

Two types of buckwheat, common buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum) and Tartary buckwheat ( Fagopyrum tartaricum), are most widely grown for food.

Buckwheat is mainly harvested in the northern hemisphere, especially in Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Central and Eastern Europe. [3]

Sources:

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Originally published at https://www.nutritionjourneys.com on January 30, 2022.

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BSc Nutritionist — Dietitian, CrossFit L-1 Trainer. Meal planning through a blend of soul and scientific Research. www.nutritionjourneys.com

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Nutrition Journeys

Nutrition Journeys

BSc Nutritionist — Dietitian, CrossFit L-1 Trainer. Meal planning through a blend of soul and scientific Research. www.nutritionjourneys.com

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