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Remembering whole grains as dietary staples

Anatomy of a grainThere has recently been a small buzz around cooking refined grains, like pasta and white rice, with a bit of oil or fat then cooling them. Due to the effect of cooking, cooling, then reheating to eat the next day, much of the simple carbs had change to non digestible "resistant starch". The benefits of this are said to be cutting calories of a meal and reducing a spike of blood sugar, as well as providing more "substrate" (fibre?) for good gut bacteria. .

A few of us natural therapists are sitting here and questioning these health benefits! Here are some of our thoughts...

"By taking a refined grain- which is mostly simple carbohydrate- and doing this you're just reducing the calories of the food. It's not making it healthier, certainly not more nutritious"

"I guess by doing this you can eat more and worry less about blood sugar and putting on weight; but I wouldn't say this is healthy choice. The "substrate" which I'm guessing is just fibre- will be good for someone who doesn't get enough fibre and eats a lot of refined grains, but there's more nutritious ways to get more fibre in your diet."

"From a Chinese medicine perspective this is old food which has less Qi than freshly cooked food. Chinese medicine believes you need to keep your diet simple and fresh to be nutritious; avoid processed foods, this is another process on an already processed food."

"You might as well eat corrugated cardboard!"

"I still think it's fine to have re-heated meals for convenient lunches and dinner, but now knowing this, maybe it's not so much of a hassle to put on some fresh brown rice to go with the left over curry! Garnish with some fresh sprouts and you're away."

Our conclusion: you can't beat whole grains when it comes to your staple diet! The whole package is the best nutritional choice. The germ and bran provides fibre, B vitamins and minerals; while refined grains contain only the endosperm -mostly simple carbohydrates- which is quickly converted into simple sugars during digestion. Eat refined grains tactically, and you won't need to worry about how to cook them!

If you're not able to cook your own and need to buy a handy product (as so often can happen!) Here's another article with a tip to recognise whether a "wholegrain" product is predominantly wholegrain, or whether it is just a minor ingredient, by comparing the carbohydrate to fibre ratio in the nutritional information.