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The Importance of Grains in a Balanced Diet

While grains stripped of their nutrients, known as refined grains, hold no nutritional value, whole grains are an especially vital part of a balanced diet. Grains are an important source of healthy complex carbohydrates as well as other crucial vitamins and minerals. Grains are a staple of a healthy diet and you should make sure that you are incorporating the right grains—whole grains—into the foods that you eat on a regular basis.

We all eat grains and lots and lots of grains at that. But many people are not always sure how to discern the healthy whole grains from other types of grains including refined grains. Let’s take the time to make the distinction—it is an important to your health and vitality.

Grains are the seeds of grasses that are used as a means of making food, most notably breads, pastas etc. They come in all shapes, sizes and consistencies. In our current food culture, there are three types of grains that you can encounter when making or buying something to eat:

  • Whole Grains: While grains are pure grains that have not been stripped of their bran or germ during the refining process known as milling. As a result, these grains are high in fiber and other nutrients like potassium, selenium and magnesium. Whole gains are extremely healthy and you should definitely make them a core part of your regular diet.  While grains are most often found in organic breads and food stores, but you can find them anywhere as long as you take the time to read the packaging.
  • Refined Grains: Refined grains are whole grains’ evil twin: they have no nutritional value and are often clumped with other health hazards such as sugars, Trans fats and preservatives. Refined grains are milled and stripped of their nutrients and end up white. White break, white flour, cakes etc. All of these things are made with refined grains.
  • Enriched Grains: Enriched grains are the in-between vis à vis whole and refined grains. They are fortified, meaning that some of the nutrients lost during milling are put back in, but not all of them. Eating enriched grains is better than eating refined grains but not nearly as good as eating whole grains—just think of it that way.

Grains provide you with the fiber and nutrients your body needs to process food and stay strong and healthy. It is important that you have them at the nexus of your diet, but only the right ones: whole grains (or if necessary, enriched grains). Refined grains are totally counterproductive to any efforts at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whole grain bread, quinoa, brown rice—all of these grains should be combined with proteins and vegetables to keep your feeling fresh and exhilarated!

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