Guide to Using Whole & Rolled Grains
New to grains? Not sure which ones to use for some of your recipes? Here’s a quick reference to selecting the right grain for your recipes. These quick descriptions of various grains are from the pamphlet my local bulk foods store had on hand. Great information to get you started on incorporating different grains into your diet.
Barley: Great for soups, casseroles, pilafs. Or ground for flatbreads. Barley is considered to be an excellent ingredient for providing soluble fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol. It is also rich in niacin and iron. Barley does contain gluten, and although the level of gluten is much lower than that of wheat, it should be considered unsafe for those with gluten sensitivities.
Buckwheat: A rich source of the amino acid lysine. It contains high levels of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, B vitamins, and iron. Buckwheat is an excellent addition to pilafs. Buckwheat contains no gluten and can be added as a substitute for wheat when baking.
Flaxseed: Flaxseed is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial in reducing cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. The seeds contain soluble fiber, which also help in reducing cholesterol levels. Of the fiber in flaxseed, 1/3 is soluble and 2/3 insoluble, which is an important component in aiding digestion. It is also the best source of lignin, which may play a role in fighting certain types of cancer. [source: WedMD]
Corn: This whole grain contains high levels of Vitamin A, B, and C. Yellow corn is particularly high in both antioxidants and carotenoids. Carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with eye health. Corn is the produced grain in the world, as well as being gluten free, and is a key ingredient in many gluten free foods.
Millet: Millet digestible, high in antioxidant activity, and can help control blood sugar and cholesterol. It is also very high in magnesium and iron.
Quinoa: A more recently discovered whole grain that was once the staple of the Incan empire, quinoa is the highest source of potassium which helps control blood sugar. This whole grain will help you feel full longer, and is one of the best sources of nutrition for gluten free diet. Quinoa is a complete protein, with a high protein to carbohydrate ratios based on the germ making up 60% f the grain. Studies also show quinoa is a good source of antioxidants and vitamin E, has excellent nutritional properties with a high protein content, and has great amino acid balance.
Farro, or Emmer wheat: This strain of wheat is one of the oldest forms. Used in ancient times, farro or emmer, has twice the fiber and protein of modern wheat, and is similar in benefits to modern wheat in terms of lowering cholesterol, maintaining blood sugar levels, and stimulating the immune system. Farro also contains antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, and betaine.
Oats: One of the best whole gains available, due to nutrient benefits which help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and heart disease, and can aid in weight control. Oats are higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates than most other grains. They also contain 20 polyphenols called avenanthramides, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itch activities. Their soluble fiber helps to control blood sugar, and they have beta-glucans which can aid the body’s endurance through chemotherapy and other nuclear therapies, as they are thought to be radioprotective. There is also evidence that introducing oats to children early in life can help reduce the likelihood of asthmatic episodes. Oats may contain gluten.
White Rice: White rice has had the husk, bran, and germ removed (polished), which allows it to cook more rapidly. This makes it the most popular variety of rice, but also the least nutritious due to the removal of the bran and germ. White rice is often enriched with nutrients, such as iron, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin to restore some of the lost nutritional value. Flour milled from rice contains no gluten, so it is an excellent choice for those who are gluten intolerant. Rice is also available in many varieties that retain the bran and germ, making them more nutritious, such as brown rice, red rice, black rice, and brown basmati.
Wild Rice: Wild rice is slightly higher in protein than other whole grains, and is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin B6, and niacin. There are very few studies on the benefits of wild rice, but the ones that do exist show promise, such as determining a high value of antioxidants, and effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and other lipids.
Rye: Rye is a rich whole grain and versatile source of dietary fiber. It contains arabinoxylan, a fiber source known for its high antioxidant activity. Other compounds rye contains are phenolic acids, lignans and alkylresorcinos, as well as many more. Similar to other grains, rye’s benefits include improved bowel health, aid in controlling blood sugar levels and weight management.
Sorghum: Sorghum is gluten free and often used by those who have celiac disease. This whole grain is similar to others in terms of nutritional benefits, and since it has an edible hull, it can be eaten with all outer layers, thus retaining most all its nutrients. Grown from traditional hybrid seeds, it is a non-GMO grain source. Sorghum grains have a naturally produced wax surrounding them which contains compounds called policosanois, which may have a positive impact on cardiac health.
Spelt: This species of wheat is rich in vitamin B and other fiber, as well as iron, magnesium, niacin, thiamin, and phosphorus.
Kamut: This species of wheat has a higher level of protein and vitamin E than other wheat. This whole grain is a great source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps to maintain a healthy immune system and is thought to guard against cancers.
Amaranth: A whole grain high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, amaranth has 3 times more calcium content that the average throughout other whole grains. It is known to be a protein powerhouse and excellent for your heart, as well as containing cholesterol lowering properties.
Teff Grain: One cooked cup of this whole grain contains 123mg of calcium. It is too small a grain to be processed, so all the health benefits stay within the grain when used. Teff Grain is also known to be resistant to starch, a benefit that aids in weight control, blood sugar management, and colon health.
Wheat: Among the nutrients present in whole wheat are high levels of protein, fiber, B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Studies have shown that the insoluble fiber in wheat bran may help fight colon cancer and at the very least is beneficial for digestion.
Sources: Whole Grains Council and WebMD