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The Skinny On Whole Grain

The phrase 'whole grain' has become somewhat of a mystery. It seems that the government has not made an official determination as to what it constitutes. Michael F. Jacobson, PhD of Center for Science in the Public Interest says the following, "Don't be misled by labels on cereals, bread and other foods made from grain." Currently here are the meanings:

* Made with whole grain- means that the food contains some, either a little or a lot.
* Good source of whole grain- on a cereal box means as little as eight grams of whole grain per serving, and "excellent source" means as little as 16 grams. Since the typical cereal serving is as large as 55 grams, a "good source" may be as little as 15% whole grain, and an "excellent source" as little as 30%.
* Whole grain- means that at least 51% of the flour is whole grain -- up to 49% may not be.
* 100% Whole grain- means that no refined grain is used.

A study which showed that by eating 7 or more servings per week of whole grain cereal may assist men to avoid heart failure was given at the American Heart Association's 47th annual conference on cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention. The cereal studied was composed of at least 25% whole grain or bran by weight. The Physician's Health Study used over 21,400 male doctors over a period of 18 years. The results showed that they were 21% less likely to develop heart failure.

Grain is composed of three parts: (1) bran (2) germ and (3) endosperm. Bran contains fiber and phytonutrients; the germ contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients; the endosperm is composed of carbohydrates and protein. The refining process which the grain undergoes to become white bread removes both bran and germ, the heart and most nutritious part of the wheat.

The following are whole-grain flour: (1) bulgur (2) whole wheat (3) whole rye (4) whole oats (5) barley (6) brown rice (7) buckwheat. Less common grains are: amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye.)

It is very important to read a product's ingredient list. The following terms are usually NOT whole grain: multi-grain, stone ground, 100% wheat, seven-grain, bran. Make certain that the word whole precedes 'grain' on the ingredient list. Also make sure that whole grain is the first or second ingredient listed!

White Whole Wheat?

Natural wheat is brownish in color. 'White' bread is made from natural wheat which has been processed which removes most of the fiber and essential nutrients. So how can there be such a thing as 'white' whole wheat?

Apparently this is natural. Albino wheat is off-white in color, and has a sweeter taste and lighter texture than the familiar 'brown' whole wheat. The nutritional profile of this 'white' wheat is identical to that of traditional whole wheat.

White whole wheat is not refined. Manufacturers are marketing this variety to appeal to consumers who are turned off by the bitter taste of regular whole wheat.

Since white whole wheat is 100% whole grain albino wheat, it provides the same nutrients and health benefits of traditional whole wheat bread. It therefore is a much healthier alternative to refined white bread.

The following is what is lost when whole wheat is refined into white flour:

  • protein: 25%
  • fiber: 95%
  • calcium: 56%
  • copper: 62%
  • iron: 84%
  • manganese: 82%
  • phosphorus: 69%
  • potassium: 74%
  • selenium: 52%
  • zinc: 76%
  • vitamin B-1: 73%
  • vitamin B-2: 81%
  • vitamin B-3: 80%
  • vitamin B-6: 87%
  • folate: 59%
  • vitamin E: 95%
  • The Origin of White Flour

    Wheat berry, another name for whole grain of wheat, is made up of three layers-the bran, germ, and endosperm. The endosperm comprising the bulk of the wheat grain, about 83 percent, and is for the most part, starch.

    White flour is made from the endosperm only whereas whole wheat flour is composed of all three parts of the grain.

    Today's milling process uses high temperature, high speed rollers. This process destroys what little nutrients remain in the flour. In the past, flour was ground slowly. The flour is then given a chlorine gas bath to whiten and age it.

    According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), chlorine gas is a flour-bleaching, oxidizing, and aging agent. The agency further states that the gas is a powerful irritant which is dangerous to breathe, and lethal. The proteins in the flour and the chlorine gas undergo a reaction which produces alloxan as a by-product.

    Alloxan is a chemical toxin which is used to induce diabetes in healthy laboratory animals so that treatments can then be studied. It produces diabetes because it speeds up large amounts of free radicals in pancreatic beta cells which in turn kills them. This is the only commercial application of alloxan.

    Engineered Whole Wheat

    Man is innately curious and for the most part - altruistic. This is no less true for food scientists.

    Many food scientists share the desire to make certain there is enough food to feed earth's ever-growing population. And with many people starving around the world, it is a noble desire.

    In 1985, the National Cholesterol Education Panel advised Americans to reduce their cholesterol and saturated fat consumption, and increase the intake of whole grains. This was done via its Adult Treatment Panel guidelines.

    Based on these guidelines, Congress passed legislation giving the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) authority to give dietary advice to Americans.

    Subsequently, whole grain consumption turned sharply upwards - especially around 1988 and afterwards.

    About the year 1988, almost all farmers were planting genetically-altered, high yield semi-dwarf variants of wheat. This variety replaced the traditional 4 and 1/2 foot tall wheat.

    As with many other engineered food in today's economy, this genetically modified (GM) wheat was rushed to market without safety measures being put in place.

    There were no clinical trials to determine if this wheat was safe for human consumption, or if there were any health concerns.

    New studies show that this wheat is a super carbohydrate which makes you fat. It triggers large increases in blood sugar.

    The blood sugar triggers your pancreas to release insulin to drive the glucose (blood sugar) into your body's cells. The blood sugar surge from this genetically modified wheat lasts two hours.

    Your body than "crashes", and you are hungry again. A cycle of eating begins which produces fat - especially around the tummy.

    The type of fat produced is known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is a lot more dangerous than subcutaneous fat which lies just underneath your skin.

    According to Dr. William Davis, MD, GM wheat results in a deadly form of LDL cholesterol. These are super small cholesterol particles which have a tendency to clump together and stick to artery walls. These clumps can cause heart attacks and stokes.

    Dr. Davis has written a book called Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight. In it he says that many of his patients suffering from obesity and diabetes have lost weight and come off diabetes drugs by eliminating wheat from their diets.

    I recommend eliminating or at least reducing whole grain from your diet. Eliminate wheat totally since it is all genetically modified.

    There's Confusion in the Land of Whole Grain

    A groundbreaking study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSHP) discovered worrisome discreprancies in industry standards used to classify products containing whole grain. Some bordered on misleading to the general public.

    There are five standards currently in use:

    • Whole grain stamp
    • Whole grain listed as first ingredient
    • Whole grain as first ingredient without added sugars in first three listed ingfredients
    • Term "whole grain" anywhere in ingredient list
    • "10:1" ratio

    The whole grain stamp is the industry's most widely used standard. The HSHP study identified this stamp as indicating whole grain products which contain greater quantities of sugar and calories than products without the stamp.

    Conventional studies point to the benefits of changing to a whole grain diet as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes, and controlling weight gain, among others.

    Based on this evidence, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans eat at least three servings of whole grain products every day. The U.S. national school program stipulates that at least half of all grains be "whole grain-rich".

    But as it stands now, there is no single standard for defining a whole grain product.

    The study researchers classified whole grain products in eight categories: breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, and chips.

    Steven Gortmaker, senior author had this to say, "Our results will help inform national discussions about product labeling, school lunch programs, and guidance for consumers and organizations in their attempts to select whole grain products..."

    What alternative health advocates realize is that even whole grain products are broken down into simple sugars in the body. This could easily be the "tipping point" for many Americans who are already consuming too many calories in the form of refined grain and sugars and artificial sweeteners.

    Rather than increasing the consumption of whole grain, I recommend reducing or eliminating altogether whole grain products and increasing the intake of vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, spinach, and greens such as collard and mustard.

    Sources: Robert Paterson's Weblog; Do You Have a Wheat Belly?, William Davis, MD, Cardiologist
    Science Daily, January 10, 2013

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