Did you know that in general pigmented grains such as red quinoa or black rice, contain more phytochemicals and antioxidants than their beige counterparts? Not only do these colourful plant pigments possibly have a range of benefits for health, they add variety and nutrients to our diet
Here’s a fun fact: red rice is coloured red by anthocyanins. These are the same plant compounds that give blueberries their colour and what make red cabbage red.
What about beige whole grains?
However, there are many “beige” whole grains with fantastic health benefits such as millet, pot barley, teff and spelt. Read the label of products if you’re not sure if they are whole grain. Some darker coloured breads are not actually whole grain – they are coloured with molasses or caramel colour to make them look like they are wholegrain/ wholemeal by manufacturers.
What are the benefits of intact whole grains?
The processing method for whole grains determines their final nutritional value. In “intact whole grains”, 100% of the original kernel, which includes the bran, germ, and endosperm must be intact. Some minimally processed grains such as cracked wheat (called dalia in India) or steel cut oats still have the bran and germ layers partially intact.
I eat a variety of intact whole grains and try to rotate them as each one has different benefits. Did you know that amaranth is particularly high in calcium? Intact whole grains contain significantly more fibre, protein and micronutrients than refined varieties and usually a lower glycaemic index too, so they have less of a steep impact on blood sugar.
Are they affordable?
Despite being called “the poor man’s food” for many years, brown or coloured rice can be quite a bit more expensive than white rice depending on where you live. White rice has a very long shelf-life and can be edible after many years. Try other whole grains and support local, ethical grain producers. Hodmedod’s is a good one in the UK.
How can I include them in my diet?
If you usually have puffed wheat or quick cook oats for breakfast, try steel cut oats (cut whole grains), oat groats (intact whole grain) or amaranth. Wholegrain pasta and wholemeal bread are both great additions too. As they are made from ground grains and are more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream than their whole counterparts, this is important to note for anyone with blood sugar issues such as many with PCOS, prediabetes or other forms of diabetes.
In general, I suggest enjoying around a few servings of whole grains every day, depending on your individual nutrition needs. They are so versatile, delicious and filling. Where you have the option to choose colour, try to pick whole grains with darker shades. If you prefer refined grains such as white rice, options such as basmati rice or al dente pasta have a lower glycaemic index and may keep you fuller for longer.
How do you like to enjoy whole grains in your diet? Leave a comment below to share your favourite way of consuming them.