What Are Whole Grains & Why Are They so Popular?

When you’re walking down the bread aisle at the grocery store, you are faced with dozens of options. Some of them boast big labels that say “whole grain” or “enriched” or some other jargon that is meant to draw your attention. So what do these labels mean, why are we starting to see more whole grains, and why is it so important to you? Let’s take a look.

Whole Grains vs Refined Grains vs Enriched Grains

Grains can be broken down into three major categories: whole, refined, and enriched. A whole grain is one in which all parts of the grain are fully represented as they were when they were growing in a field. Whole grains contain up to a dozen different micronutrients in a proportion that is just right for promoting health and wellness. By contrast, a refined grain is one where only the main body of the grain is present, and the outer shell and germ have been removed. This strips away many of the helpful nutrients that are stored in the grain itself, drastically reducing the healthy benefits of eating grains at all. Finally, enriched grains are those that have been stripped down through the refining process, and then had extra nutrients added back to try and make them healthy again. The problem with this approach is that manufacturers tend to only add a few nutrients back in, and they don’t balance them very well when compared to the original grain’s makeup.

Why Whole Grains Matter

In the quest to get your recommended six servings of grains a day, it’s not uncommon to think of bread and rice as major contributors. While there are tons of other options for grains, these two tend to be affordable and accessible, but you still have to choose the right variety if you want to maximize your health. The USDA recommends that at least three of your six daily servings should be whole grains to ensure proper micronutrient levels.

Research shows that these micronutrients directly contribute to lowered health risks when it comes to heart disease, cancers, strokes, obesity and much more. Avoiding refined and enriched grains in favor of whole grains will help you achieve a much more balanced diet. The good news is that many companies are catching on, and now offer whole grains in just about every product we rely on. Whole grain rice, bread, quinoa, oats, flour and similar products are becoming widely available.

Adding Whole Grains to Your Diet

You need not fret about switching to whole grains in your diet. The process is simple when you order meals from Lean Lifestyle. You can easily select recipes that already have whole grains worked into the plan. Check out this Buffalo Chicken Wrap with a whole grain tortilla, or this Blackened Salmon with whole grain rice, to get an idea of what is possible. Whole grains add more flavor and richness to any recipe, and you don’t have to go out of your way to squeeze them in.

To learn more about whole grains, balanced diets, and healthy living, make sure to visit Lean Lifestyle online. Select from one of our specialized meal plans and you could have fresh food on your doorstep in no time.