This is the first installment which will be a series of articles, reviews and videos about grains. Because of all I learned and discovered in researching the value and benefits of grains, I want to share it with you. But, because all that I learned is so abundant, I felt it would be best to break it into smaller articles. Otherwise, I’m sure I would lose many readers. And what I have to share is so exciting and important, I will give it to you in smaller, digestible doses. So please, hit the “Follow” button on my blog so you can be sure to read all the information as I post it.
The questions I posed to myself which I will offer my opinion’s on are:
- What Are Grains?
- What Are The Best Grains?
- How Much Grain Should I Store & How Do I Safely Store Them?
- How Do I Prepare and Cook Grains?
I can’t begin to tell you how important an adequate supply of grains is in your food storage. In my opinion, aside from water, grains are probably the most important because of the nutritional value and the great source for protein. Grains, beans and rice help to bulk up and extend foods when food may be in short supply.
Also, if you want to minimize processed foods and feed your family healthier alternatives to commercially processed foods, you also want to buy and use whole grains in your home. For both these reasons, I have begun studying all I can to learn about the types of grains, their best qualities and their best uses in recipes like breads and pastas.
I have to admit that I hadn’t – until recently – given much thought to the differences between grains and the processes used to prepare them for our consumption. I have hard red wheat, white wheat, rice, and oats all in my emergency supplies. But that’s where it ended. They are safely packaged to last for two or even three decades. But adopting the philosophy of, “Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store,“ made me realize that simply having these life-sustaining foods was only the first step. Now I need to understand how I will use them in critical and emergency situations. But also, how to process them and incorporate them into my families daily lives because I am learning just how healthy they are.
As you can see from the image of the Grain Anatomy below, there are three elements to a whole grain. But through commercial processing, two of these important and healthy elements are stripped, leaving us with breads and cereals that have little or no nutritional value left in them. This process strips the bran and the germ from the final products.
The bran is the outer layer and works to protect the actual grain.
The endosperm is the next layer. It is the source of energy to the seed of the plant.
Finally, the germ is the seed of the grain. It holds the valuable vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats.
If you begin looking for foods that are made of whole grain, you may begin to realize how scarce it can be.
Much of the food you find in your grocery isle contain only a small amount of the whole grain, even through they may have a large label on the front of the package saying it contains whole grain. They leave it up to you, the consumer to figure out what they really mean. Read the label and see what is the first ingredient listed. Many whole grain products will list the grams of whole grain somewhere on the package, or say something like “100% whole wheat.” You can trust these statements. But be skeptical if you see the words “whole grain” without more details, such as “crackers made with whole grain.” The product may contain only miniscule amounts of whole grains.
Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Enriched (”white”) flour contains only the endosperm, while whole grain flour contains extra protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are found only in the bran and germ. All three parts are important!
The following are considered whole grains, when all three parts – the bran, germ, and endosperm – are included:
Amaranth, Barley (hull-less or hulled), Brown and Colored Rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur,
Corn and Whole Cornmeal, Emmer, Farro, Kamut® grain, Millet, Oatmeal and Whole
Oats, Popcorn, Quinoa, Sorghum, Spelt, Triticale, Whole Rye, Whole or Cracked
Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps!
The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
- stroke risk reduced 30-36%
- type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
- heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
- better weight maintenance
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
- reduced risk of asthma
- healthier carotid arteries
- reduction of inflammatory disease risk
- lower risk of colorectal cancer
- healthier blood pressure levels
- less gum disease and tooth loss
Impressive information, don’t you think? My next installment which will cover the types and options of grains to store and how to safely store your grains for long-term food insurance.