What is the difference between whole grains vs refined grains?
Whole grain products
Whole grains are just that – A whole grain. The whole grain has been kept intact. They still contain the endosperm, germ and the bran. This is ideal because none of the nutrients have been lost to processing. Compared to refined grains, they therefore contain more fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Wholemeal products are made from whole grains that have been ground to a finer consistency. They are very similar to wholemeal products in terms of their nutritional content however it is always best to choose whole grain over wholemeal. Additionally, whole grain products are low GI where as wholemeal are typically moderate GI. In terms of bread, choosing a wholemeal and whole grain combination is recommended! Whole grains are important for vegans and vegetarians because they are a valuable source of zinc and iron.
Refined grain products
A refined grain has undergone processing to remove the bran and germ layer of the grain. Unfortunately a lot of the nutrients mentioned above are also lost – including fibre. Many products will add some of the lost nutrients back in, however, they never quite equal those from the original source. Phytochemicals are chemicals found naturally in fruit and vegetables, they provide many health benefits to the body. Phytochemicals that are lost cannot be added back in to the product and unfortunately they provide great health benefits!
- Lignans – Have cardio protective effects
- Phytic acid – decreases GI
- Phenolic compounds – Antioxidants
- Tocotrienols, phytosterols, saponins – Have positive effects on blood pressure
Refined grain products tend to have more added fat, salt and sugar and will cause blood glucose levels to spike due to their high GI.
Benefits of whole grains
Regularly eating whole grain products is actually fantastic for your health! Here are the benefits to be reaped:
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of bowel disease e.g. diverticular disease
- Decreased risk of some types of cancer
- Assist with weight loss and maintenance
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.