The Power of Whole Grains

Published on 05 July 2008 by Verena in Blog, Grains, Health Topics A-Z

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Increasing numbers of people today are suffering from gluten intolerance, wheat and yeast sensitivity and related health conditions such as indigestion, lethargy and headaches. A primary cause of many of these health conditions is the continued over-consumption of refined grains (e.g. yeast breads, rice, couscous). Refined grains lack many essential nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins and iron because of the removal of the nutrient-dense bran and germ during milling and processing. Further, the combination of wheat and yeast, as found in virtually all commercial breads, can cause our system to clog up, inhibit absorption by the intestine and contribute to the production of toxins.

Whole grains such as barley, quinoa, and amaranth are nutritionally superior to refined grain and yeast products. These whole grains contain an abundance of beneficial antioxidants, phytochemicals, and essential nutrients, and are therefore protective against various chronic diseases, ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to cancer. Whole grains are also well metabolized by the human body when properly prepared via soaking, roasting and other forms of preparation.

Have you ever heard of Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wah’ or ‘kee-noh-uh’? Quinoa is a gluten-free ‘super’-grain, an ancient staple food indigenous to the South American Andes, where it has been cultivated and valued for its superior nutritional profile for over 6000 years!

Quinoa is the only grain containing all essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. Quinoa possesses larger quantities of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins than many other grains (wheat, maize, rice). One cup of cooked quinoa has a calcium content equal to that of a quart of milk and is considered beneficial in treating bone problem.

White / Yellow Quinoa

Red Quinoa

Amaranth, a whole grain worshiped in rituals by the ancient Aztecs, contains three times the dietary fibre and five times the iron content of whole wheat. Amaranth also contains twice as much calcium and supporting nutrients (magnesium and silicon) than milk. Using amaranth in combination with whole wheat or brown rice, results in a complete protein equivalent to fish, red meat or poultry. Amaranth also contains tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) which have cholesterol-lowering properties in humans.

Barley, like all whole grains is low in fat and is an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and minerals such as selenium. The soluble fiber in barley is helpful in lowering cholesterol and in preventing constipation. Recent studies showed that a diet high in beta-glucan from barley helps to lower blood LDL (bad) cholesterol. Barley can also help stabilize blood glucose levels, which may benefit those afflicted with type 2 diabetes.

Pearled Barley

Spinach Okra Barley Wok

Buckwheat is a gluten-free seed that cleanses and strengthens the intestines and improves appetite. Rutin, a bioflavonoid found in buckwheat, strengthens capillaries and blood vessels, reduces blood pressure, and increases circulation to the hands and feet. If roasted, buckwheat is known as kasha and becomes one of the few alkalizing seeds.

Buckwheat Grouts

The indigenous people of Africa called millet the “Queen of the grains”.  Millet strengthens the kidneys and is beneficial to stomach and spleen-pancreas. It is the only alkalizing grain and can therefore balance acid-alkaline conditions. Millet has a very high amino acid profile and rich in silicon.  It helps prevent miscarriage and has anti-fungal properties. In addition, millet is excellent for diabetes and weight issues.

Whole Millet Kernels

3 Responses to “The Power of Whole Grains”

  1. ben says:

    I was looking at amaranth as a gluten-free substitute for oats…

    But does amaranth contain mainly insoluble fiber with very little insoluble fiber?

    Is there any data that shows that the phytic acid in amaranth does in fact decrease with soaking (preferably in milk)? Apparently, some grains soaking does not significantly reduce the phytic acid content.

  2. ben says:

    Here’s a link showing phytic acid vs soaking time..
    http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/soaking-grains

  3. beforewisdom says:

    “One cup of cooked quinoa has a calcium content equal to that of a quart of milk ”

    This isn’t true. Quinoa doesn’t even have as much calcium as 1 cup of milk

    From the USDA nutrition database:
    http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6430

    No disrespect

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