Archive for the tag - whole grains

Are Sprouted Grains Healthier?

sprouted grainsWhen it comes to healthy food crazes, it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction. In recent years, sprouted grains have become increasingly popular - but do sprouted grains represent an actual nutrition advantage over traditional grains? Or is it just marketing hype?

First things first, sprouted grains are seeds that have just started to grow - but that have yet to develop into an actual plant. For this very brief period, the outer bran layer splits open and a young shoot may just be visible. Some sprouted grains can be added directly to foods like salads, while still others are baked into breads, cereals, etc.

Because some of the grain’s starch is used for sprouting, there’s a slightly higher percentage of other nutrients in sprouted grains. However, these differences are relatively small.

There’s also some preliminary evidence that sprouting a grain will improve its bioavailability. That’s just a fancy way to say that some of those nutrients - including minerals like iron and zinc - may be more easily absorbed after sprouting. As such, sprouted grains may be more beneficial especially for developing countries wherein iron and zinc deficiencies are more common.

In addition, some individuals report improved digestion with sprouted grains versus traditional grains. Sprouted beans, for example, may result in less gas or bloating.

The bottom line: Sprouted grains are whole grains. And all of us are better off eating whole grains instead of the refined grains found in white bread, most pastas, etc. But rather than buy into the benefits or hype of just one ingredient, we need to examine the nutritional properties of foods as a whole. I could make a sprouted grain cake… but, sadly, it’s still a cake.

Good Carbs Vs. Bad Carbs.

Here's a simple rule to remember: If it can sit on a shelf for a long time, it can probably sit on your body for a long time, too.

Let’s face it: Carbs get a bad rap.

Contrary to what some diets might have you believe, your body needs carbohydrates for proper function and improved results. For one, carbohydrates give you the energy to power through your workout and, as a result, make strength and muscle gains. Moreover, low-carb diets deplete glycogen stores. Once glycogen stores are emptied, your body will burn protein - including protein from muscle tissue - to meet its energy needs. That means you’ll actually lose muscle mass!

Because low-carb diets are so widespread, most athletes don’t get their required carbohydrate intake. For active individuals, experts recommend 6 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight per day. At 71 kilos or 158 pounds, my daily carbohydrate intake should be upwards of 450 grams.

Does this mean I can eat as much white bread and pasta as I want? No.

The real story on carbohydrates is that you should select natural, unrefined, complex carbohydrates. These are the so-called “good carbs” and can be found in such foods as brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, apricots, oranges, prunes, plums, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, lettuce, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, soy beans, soy milk, any many others. In other words, good carbs can be found in whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables and legumes - many of which are high in fiber.

Refined carbohydrates, like those found in pastries, sugary drinks and other highly processed foods, are not a friend of smaller waistlines. With the exception of your post-workout recovery drink (when your body needs a quick shot of carbohydrates), these are to be avoided.

The bottom line: The war against carbs has no winners; carbohydrates are your friend. Just be smart about the type of carbohydrates that you consume.

Multigrain Vs. Whole Wheat Bread.

While we know that whole wheat bread is much healthier for us than white bread, how do multigrain options measure up?

First things first, the terms “whole wheat” or “whole grain” are very specific. As the Nutrition Diva writes:

Whole grain products contain all the parts of the grain: the germ, which is rich in essential fatty acids and b-vitamins; the endosperm, which is mostly starch; and the bran, which, of course, is high in fiber. In products made with refined grains, on the other hand, most of the germ and bran have been removed, leaving the starchy endosperm, which is the least nutritious part of the grain.

The term “multigrain,” on the other hand, simply means that a variety of different grains were used. And many (if not all) of those grains may be refined - and thus, much less nutritious. To know for sure, simply examine the ingredients on the packaging. Look for the word “whole” before the grains listed to get a better idea of the nutritional value.

Bottom line: If you’re looking to include bread as part of your healthy diet, opt for whole wheat. While multigrain bread may sound appealing, unless it’s made with whole grains, it can have the same nutritional value as white bread.