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Nutrition Week Special | Whole Grains in our diet!

By Mrs. Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Chief Dietician, Department of Dietetics, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Pusa Road, New Delhi 110005.


1. What is whole grain?

Ans. Whole grain is the entire seed of the plant and we call it a kernel. A kernel consists of three parts - the bran is the outer part skin which contains antioxidants and vitamin B but mainly recognized for providing the fiber in the diet; endosperm is the largest part of the kernel which contains very starchy carbohydrate proteins and very small amounts of vitamins and minerals .If bran is where you get fiber from then endosperm is where you get calories from. When you buy white flour or white bread that means you are eating endosperm. The germ is the fetus or baby that can grow or sprout into a plant which is the most nutritious part of the grain and provides us with essential fats, proteins, phytonutrients andB vitamins which is missing in our diet. Therefore,whole grain isthe whole part of the kernel containing bran, endosperm and germ, exactly as a grain would be growing in its natural state in open fields.


2. What are the benefits of consuming whole grains?

Ans. Whole grains play an important role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health. Whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion. People whose diets include the highest average intake of choline (found in egg yolk and soybeans), and its metabolite betaine (found naturally in beets, spinach and whole wheat), have high levels of certain anti - inflammatory substanceswhich reduce the risk of a wide range of chronic diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, and type-2 diabetes.Whole wheat helps to prevent formation of gall stones. Interestingly, whole grains such as wheat also contain lignans, which are phytonutrients that act as weak hormone-like substances. Lignans occupy the hormone receptors in the body, thus actively protect the breast against high circulating levels of hormones such as estrogen.


3. How much servings of whole grain shouldbe taken by a moderate worker? .

Ans. Eat at least 48grams .(i.e 3 servings) of whole grains in a day


4. What are the nutrients and calories present in whole grain?

Ans. Nutrition Summary:

Calories 339 Fat 1.87g Carbs 72.57g


Protein 13.7g
Dietary fiber Vitamin B Complex Iron Magnesium and Zinc

There are 339 calories in 100 grams of Whole Wheat Flour.

Calorie breakdown: 5% fat, 80% carbs, 15% protein. Whole grains are important sources of many other nutrients as well,including dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, several Bvitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium)


5. What is the right way of taking whole grain? Are whole grains consumed the same way as normal grain or there are any precautions that should be taken while consuming whole grain?

Ans. Whole grains are rich sources of nutrients but they are difficult to digest. This is due to the presence of phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors,this is also due to the presence of bran which has insoluble fiber that resist digestion.

Certain processes have to be followed in order to enhance the nutrient content of whole grains and also make the nutrients in them available to the body. Soaking and sprouting induces the germination process whichneutralizes the phyticacid (a chemical present in brans of all seeds which inhibits the absorption of calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron).Sproutingneutralizes enzyme inhibitors that are present in all seeds, (enzyme inhibitors inhibits the enzyme required for digestion of the grains). Sprouting will improve the digestion and increase the nutritional value of whole grains. Italso increases vitamins like vitamin C, carotenoids and several of the B vitamins.


6. Are they are beneficial for children as well as older people also?

Ans. Whole grain can improve digestive health and weight management. Individuals eating 3 servings of whole grain may reduce the risk of:

Heart disease by 25-36%
Stroke by 37%
Type 2 diabetes by 21-27%
Cancer of digestive system by 21-43%

Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and when children begin eating whole grains early, they tend to develop a preference for those flavors. Choose whole grain cereals in the form of whole wheat [pastas ,breads and pizzas].