Sunday, July 29, 2012

See Through the Whole Grain Hoax

True or False? 
"I had whole grains for breakfast:  two slices of whole grain toast."

Well, if it's made of flour, it's no longer a true whole grain. Here's what a real whole grain contains:
"Don't be fooled by "whole-grain" products such as whole wheat flour (or bread made from it), which have a glycemic index nearly as high as that of refined flour. Grains that have been pulverized into flour, whether "whole" or not, have a significantly expanded starchy surface area available to digestive enzymes, and cause blood sugar levels to spike dramatically." -- Andrew Weil, M.D.
Okay, so what is a true whole grain?
The good news is that it is really easy to tell the difference between fake “whole” grains and intact whole grains. If a food actually looks like a grain (i.e., it retains its original form and bran covering), then it is an intact grain. If it looks like a Cheerio, chip, loaf of bread or pasta with a “whole grain” label, then it is a fake whole grain.  -- Darya Pino, Summer Tomato
KNOW THIS: Whole grain flours, which contain all the bran, germ and endosperm components of the original whole grain, do not behave the same way inside the body as an intact grain. While an intact grain time-releases sugar as the body breaks it down, processed grains (flours) are digested more quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar.
"This means when using or cooking with whole grains, the individual grains must be intact or cracked into a few large pieces, not ground in flour. Few nutrition guides make this distinction, but it is vital - with true whole grains, the outer bran and germ layers remain to encase the starchy endosperm within. This means it takes longer for digestion to occur, which slows the conversion of starch to sugar, keeping you fuller longer and preventing spikes in blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance." - Dr. Andrew Weil
Are you a Sugar Addict?
Try avoiding products made from flour for 3 days and you should have your answer. If you find yourself ornery with cravings for those foods or other sugary food and drink, you likely have an addiction. See the "Sugar Blog" Abridged for the full story and how you can break free and restore your wellness!

Deciphering Food Marketers' Labels

"Whole Grain": The product's ingredients must list a whole grain flour as the first ingredient. In other words, a product can be "whole grain" if 51% of its ingredients consist of whole grain flour. What else might be in that ingredients list? Added sugars? Partially hydrogenated oils?

"100% Whole Grain":  All the grain in the ingredients list (amongst a possibly long list of other ingredients, including added sugars) is whole grain.

"A Good Source of Whole Grain":  Contains at least 8g of whole grains (again, remember this is usually a flour, not intact grain) per serving, meaning that a common serving weighing 30 to 55 grams could contain as much as 85% bleached, nutrient-deficient flour.

graphic from
Solution: Prepare your own whole (intact) grains, including...
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn (popcorn!)
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (brown, wild)
  • Rye
  • Sorghum (aka Milo)
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Wheat (Spelt, Farro, Kamut, Bulgur, Cracked Wheat, Wheatberries)
Learn about each grain's history, cooking times and find recipe suggestions (avoiding the use of whole grain flours) here:

Cooking with Whole Grains - Dr. Weil's Healthy Kitchen

How to Cook Whole Grains - Taste of Home

High-Fiber Whole-Grain Recipes - Eating Well

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