Whole Grains Are Better for You than Processed Grains—Right?

October 6, 2015
Category: Really Eat Right

Not necessarily, unless you follow some simple steps.
The owner of a beloved lunch spot in Alabama was recently asked by an out-of-state visitor what kind of bread she had for a sandwich. She replied, “Honey, we have four kinds: white, white, white, and white.”
The visitor was probably one of those people who always asks for whole wheat because it is “healthier:” more nutritious, less likely to spike blood sugar. But while more and more people seem to recognize that highly processed grains are not part of a healthy diet, they may not realize some key differences in how whole grains should be treated and consumed.
Noted chef Dan Barber makes some interesting observations about using whole grains The Third Plate: Field Notes on The Future of Food.
Whole wheat includes the germ and the bran. After it is ground, the germ and its oils start to spoil. Spoilage also degrades flavor.
This applies to any grain or seed, not just ones containing gluten. It is especially important with something like flax seed. Once ground, it begins to turn rancid very rapidly and must be immediately consumed. Ground flax seed is vacuum-packed and is generally OK when you open it, but it won’t last.
People who really love their coffee will understand this point. If they buy ground coffee, they will keep it refrigerated or frozen. The real die-hards will insist on buying whole beans and grinding them fresh each morning.
In other words, if your nutritional goals allow you to use grains in your baking (and it should be noted that Paleo-style approaches do not), go ahead and use whole grains instead of their highly processed versions—but be sure you use them quickly and/or store them in the freezer, because they will go bad very quickly indeed.

48 responses to “Whole Grains Are Better for You than Processed Grains—Right?”

  1. Patricia Eves says:

    can not share this on FB for some reason

  2. riverstrat . says:

    Thank you for the information.

  3. MR PALEO says:

    PALEO/PRIMAL/KETOGENIC and most “low-carb” diets do not allow grains and legumes…

    • Jackson says:

      That’s why Paleo has no problem with quinoa. It’s a seed and not a grain.

      • MR PALEO says:

        That is correct… all grains are “seeds”, but not all seeds are “grains”… I explain this on my blog. The “problem” with quinoa is more a matter of ethics… I allow my clients, after completing their six-week “intro” period, white rice (Lundberg ONLY), buckwheat groats, quinoa, wild rice, and one or two others, one serving of ONE of these, once a week, preferably on Wednesday. The only legumes allowed are green peas and green beans.

        • Jackson says:

          Right you are. I expect one of the good things about quinoa is that it has not been tremendously hybridized and adulterated the way virtually all grains have been over the course of history. Even though I don’t consume it, the only wheat product that doesn’t bother my body to consume it is Einkorn wheat, for that reason.

        • Claudio says:

          Why Lundberg only?

        • Claudio says:

          Why Wednesday?

          • MR PALEO says:

            Claudio,
            Most Americans eat the most food on weekends… if one is going to cheat, make it when you are least likely to store those cheat calories as bodyfat…
            Also, the best time of day to cheat is usually your evening meal. I say usually, because there are numerous variables, such as do you workout, and when…

  4. Truth59 says:

    People do NOT need grains of any kind to live.

    • David Echegoyen says:

      And nobody should eat red meat or drink milk or etc etc etc: The list is endless. Now, it is true that people who are lactose intolerant should not drink milk, but this rule doesn’t apply to everybody. Northern European countries have consumed milk and milk products for generations, and they survive their long winters because of their milk consumption, not despite it. The same is true of some northern African countries where owning herds of milk producing goats or cattle define their status in their societies. Of course, many people say nobody should drink milk the same way you say nobody should eat grains, but these statements do not reflect the reality of the human condition, for nearly all societies have eaten grains for hundreds if not thousands of years.

      • Naomi Aldort says:

        The milk these societies drank and dairy consumed were fresh and raw. A totally different food.

        • livefree1200cc says:

          true – and the grains were few and far between. Its only been a couple hundred years that humans have been able to harvest grains by the ton.

          • Elene Gusch, DOM says:

            Agriculture in general has been quite grain-centric for millennia. What do you think they were growing to feed those earliest cities in the Fertile Crescent?

          • livefree1200cc says:

            lol – you think those giant 40 foot wide combines and 4 wheel drive tractors have been around a millennia? If you read my statements, I said it has only been 100-200 years that we have been able to produce such abundance of grains. This period of time is when grain consumption has shot through the roof. I never meant that humans NEVER ate grains until now, however, the usage the chart went parabolic with the invention of the large machinery. What do I think earlier civilizations planted? Commercial farming hasn’t even been around all that long. Most earlier people were nomadic travelling from food source to food source. Those that had family farms planetd some grains, however the bulk would have been corn, beans, squash, potatoes, turnips, peppers, tomatoes, and other bulky vegetables. Their livestock would have been in the fields eating most of the grains 😉

          • dreamweaverdory says:

            most cultures have been farming for 10s of thousands of years, the first farms were to grow grains, even in primitive farms grains are resource better in a field than in the wild and the grains they grew where geographic based ,rice in wet areas all around the world, wheat, barley, rye etc. in temperate drier areas, corn and potatoes was only grown in the Americas, the tropics tended to other forms of starches. Vegetables , gourds beans etc where gathered but took awhile to become part of the farm. Animal husbandry is a later development and where grazed not feed grains for feed. The proportion of grain we grow now is driven more by things like feed and uses that have nothing to do with food ( ethanol) the big machines are the result of industrialization

      • livefree1200cc says:

        Meat and raw milk is a natural part of the human diet. Grains are not. That is the reality of the human condition. Its been a very short blip in human history (100-200 years) that we have been able to harvest tons of grain with large farm equipment.

      • Jeremy says:

        While it is true that people have been eating grain, meat and dairy throughout history, what has changed is the quality. Dairy was raw, not processed, beef was grass fed and pastured, along with all animals. Nothing was gmo or doused in pesticides. There were no factory farms, etc. Eat real food according to you body type. Some people do better eating more red meat, others do fine without. Some can tolerate a little grain, others can’t. but eat REAL food.

    • livefree1200cc says:

      True – grains have really only been a staple in the human diet for a couple hundred years at most (at least to the extent they are today). We human’s would not naturally pick grains out of a field and eat them. Research has found that grains are not good for us, although they work in a food emergency just fine, they should not be part of our everyday life.

      • sabelmouse says:

        i think a couple of hundred years is a slight under estimate.

        • livefree1200cc says:

          Humanity has only had the capacity to mass produce and process grains since the invention of large farming equipment. How long do you think we have had tractors??

          • sabelmouse says:

            it depends what you consider mass production. there was quite a bit produced pre industrial revolution.
            neither feasting on grains 100000 years ago nor not until 200 years ago is right.

          • livefree1200cc says:

            haha, its all good, don’t let me stop you from eating all the things that are killing you slowly. Dig in, there’s a Dunkin Donuts just around the corner.

          • sabelmouse says:

            THAT is NOT the subject of our discussion, historical accuracy is.
            you show yourself up with this reply, especially since we mostly agree on what is healthy and eating a doughnut would make me very ill.

          • dreamweaverdory says:

            first plants farmed were grains, not for bread but for beer 😉

          • dreamweaverdory says:

            mass production is not the question but what the first farms grew , which started with grains as the first crop.

    • Jackson says:

      No problem here, because Quinoa is not a grain. It’s a seed.

  5. riverstrat . says:

    Thank you also for not having thought police screening our posts. There are ‘discuss’ sites, like Natural News that do. When you see the msg ”waiting to post your message” they are screening for content , not spam or language but speech that they don’t agree with. Free Speech is the most important tool against tyranny….Thanks again!!

  6. cardcarryingmemberzillion says:

    Sometimes it just seems like everything is bad for you except perhaps vegetables. I’ve recognized a need to cut down on the carbs in my diet, including even whole grains, but I’d rather eat less animal protein and get more protein from beans, nuts and those whole grains with a high protein content (quinoa is a good example) because I understand it to be a better use of natural resources needed to feed the world and preserve the ecosystem. That doesn’t mean I think people who eat meat are bad or something like that, besides I need some animal protein or I find that I get headaches (although some people I know are able to be vegetarians with no ill effects). What ever happened to balance???

    • Jackson says:

      You might want to note that even though it is repeatedly referred to as one, quinoa is not a grain. It is a seed. That is one of the best things about it.

    • Jym Dyer says:

      The information in this article isn’t anything new, it’s just that some ways of processing food are destructive and labeling can be misleading. True whole wheat flour remains superior to white flour, shelf life degrades both but is more noticeable when the wheat germ oils are there to become rancid.

    • sabelmouse says:

      what is most sustainable often depends on where you live and on HOW it is produced. chances are that your plant proteins come from far away and aren’t all that sustainable.
      while products from grass fed ruminants or waste fed pigs could the sustainable option.
      most likely a mixture of both.

  7. Eyes Have It says:

    Brown rice from anyplace other than India, Pakistan or California has high levels of arsenic. It is actually better to buy white rice in those cases. If your brown rice comes from anywhere but the places mentioned above, throw it out and boil up some white rice from anywhere in the world.

  8. johnrhett says:

    I have seen zero difference since I stopped eating white bread. Zero. So I’m going to eat whatever I want to with the few carbs I can allow myself (being hypoglycemic, I mostly avoid them).

  9. JRuss says:

    Most of the wheat grown in the United States is now terminated with Glyphosate which makes the wheat shrivel up and die like a weed sprayed with RounUp. This makes the wheat easier to harvest. But this wheat now contains a toxic carcinogen. I suspect that most of the “gluten intolerance” in the United States is actually an intolerance to glyphosate. I hope the CA EPA does put glyphosate on their list of carcinogens which will require a warning label on anything containing glyphosate.

  10. Diane Jones says:

    I have to cut carbs too, I stay away as much as I can from all Grains as they are GMO’d. mostly.
    Wheat, corn, barley are tainted. Nuts I hope are not and I love my meat/fish/poultry.
    I like going to the farmer’s market or their stands at the farm and I ask is this tainted with GMOs and most say no. If they are, I have found them to be honest enough to tell me. I make the choice.

  11. Diane Jones says:

    I also try to get several meals w/o any meats. But they are not Vegan. eggs, cheese etc.

  12. Wendy Allen says:

    Gluten…wheat/barley/rye..oats may act like gluten with avenin may hurt the intestines so nutrients don’t absorb and the cells are not made right to work right and the brain/body may malfunction. Whole wheat has more gluten than white bread. Microscopic hidden gluten may hurt.

  13. NERDWORLD PROBLEMS says:

    Recently I have discovered that I am gluten sensitive and dropped wheat out of my diet, a bit later I discovered that corn wasn’t doing me much good either, probably the pesticide content, so I have dropped that as well. I’m down to rice as my only edible grain now. Don’t know how much longer that will last since I understand most of that is GM as well. It’s hard enough to lose the gluten, it’s in almost everything, but to lose the two primary grains in a little over a year is very difficult indeed. Then there is the thought that since most of the rice that is grown now is also GM, I’m not sure how long that one will last since it has become the one and only at this point. We have got to get this crap out of our food supply. It is killing us all.

    • sabelmouse says:

      shouldn’t brown rice that you buy in a health food shop be gmo free? then again, i’m in europe.

      • NERDWORLD PROBLEMS says:

        The rice I cook if I want to have rice with my meal is not a problem. It’s the rice that is in things you buy. If I can find things in health food shops, yes they are GMO free, but the shops don’t have everything I want and the stuff from the grocery store isn’t always marked whether it is or not. Biggest issue, our government just decided ,against the wishes of the general public, that the food manufacturers don’t have to label GMO’s. It will be left up to them whether they want to or not.

  14. sabelmouse says:

    feasting on grains?

  15. eggman2 says:

    The best grains are sprouted until-you-get-the-little-green-plant ones.
    I have read that rice that is not soaked is good against cancer, yet if it is soaked and fermented, it will strengthen your glands.

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