Nurse's Notes: The Grains Food Group
What is the Grain Group? What foods are in the Grains Group? The Grain Group consists of foods made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of food from the Grain Group.
Grains are divided into two different subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains are foods that contain the entire grain kernel. The grain kernels are the bran, germ, and endosperm of grains. Examples include whole-wheat flour, bulgur or cracked wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.
Refined grains are grains that have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice. Many refined grains are enriched, which means that certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing.
The USDA recommends that at least half of your grains are whole grains. Eating grains provides many health benefits. People who eat whole grains as a part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease, constipation, and some types of cancer. Grains also provide many nutrients that are vital for the health of our bodies. Grains provided dietary fiber which important in healthy bowel function. Grains also provide several B Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin which are important in metabolism and a healthy nervous system. Folate helps the body to form red blood cells and reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development. Whole and enriched grain products also provide minerals such as non-heme iron which are important in carrying oxygen in our blood, magnesium, a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles, and selenium, a mineral that protects our cells from oxidation which is important in a healthy immune system.
Next week we will discuss why grains are important and how many ounces of grain products are recommend.