If you are confused by the enormous amount of conflicting data available on foods that are good or bad for you, don’t fret too much because most people are. From produce and whole milk to grains and flours, almost every food group has its pros and cons. It all finally boils down to choosing what’s right for your body type and dietary needs.
One such food group that often gets debated about is grains; so, are grains really good or bad for us?
Are Grains Good or Bad?
Even though grains have a bad rep among followers of low-carb diets, they are a staple source of energy in most parts of the world.
The most common cereal grains used around the world are corn, wheat and rice with other grains like oats, barley, rye and others making up the latter portion of the list. In the United States, nutritionists typically allot 5 to 6 grams of grains a day for women and 6 to 8 grams for men. Apart from cereals, pseudocereals like quinoa and buckwheat are also part of the list.
While whole grains might be good for the body, when consumed in moderation, the arguments about their negative points mostly revolve around processed or refined forms that are used in bread, pastries and other not-so-healthy foods.
Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
A whole grain comprises three distinct parts: bran, germ and endosperm. Bran is the hard outer shell that is a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, the germ is the core that provides nutrients like fats, proteins and carbohydrates and the endosperm makes up the starchy part of the grain.
A refined grain, on the other hand, is a processed form of the whole grain that lacks the bran and the germ; the only components it provides are carbohydrates and empty calories, which are easily digested and can cause a fluctuation in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, can cause cravings, overeating, weight gain and related health problems.
Another point to keep in mind is that while some whole grains like wheat and oats are nutritious, others like corn and rice are not nutrient-packed even in their whole forms.
Benefits of consuming whole grains:
- Three servings could lower the risk of colon cancer
- It could lower the risk of heart ailments by 30 percent
- Regular consumption may reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat and obesity
- Can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
The negative impact of consuming grains:
- Celiac disease in those who are allergic to gluten, a type of protein present in wheat, barley and other grains (Nearly 10 percent of the American population is sensitive to gluten)
- The high carbohydrate content in grains might be harmful to some, especially those who suffer from diabetes
- Grains and some vegetables, nuts and fruits, contain anti-nutrients like phytic acids and lectins that can disrupt healthy digestion and gut health. They might also reduce the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.
Practitioners of the keto and paleo diets claim that their grain-free diets provide enough amount of fiber and other nutrients associated with grains and that the category of grains can be easily done away with.
The final decision, of whether you want to keep grains in your diet or give up on them completely, is up to you, your body and the way it assimilates grains. Observe your body, see how it reacts to grains and then decide whether you want to take the grain-free route or keep the whole grains.
Gunnars, C. (2017, June 4). Grains: Are They Good For You, or Bad? Retrieved September 25, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/grains-good-or-bad