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Why diversify your grains?

How many types of wholegrains have you tried?

Probably the best thing I’ve done this year is diversify the grains I eat (I’m old and boring 🤣). There’s so many to choose from, yet I used to just go for rice with everything, or would use bread, pasta and noodles instead of whole grains.

The processing of grains into flours, breads, and refined versions such as white rice, involves the removal of the outer bran and the germ where the most beneficial nutrients reside, hence why the WHOLE grain is more beneficial to health.

Sure, you can get wholegrain breads and pastas which are great switches to make, but let's also explore the world of wholegrains as standalone additions to meals. Because it will be worth it!

Quinoa, buckwheat, rice (brown, red, wild), barley, bulgur, oats, freekeh, amaranth, millet, and teff are some examples of whole grains. My current favourite is bulgur wheat as you can just soak a cupful in boiling water & cover for 12 minutes and then drain. It’s so easy! And has a chewy, nuttiness that I love. I add to it fresh chopped herbs, raw chilli & garlic and it takes up 1/4 of my plate for a delicious lunch or dinner.

The trick for fluffy, non-gooey grains? Soak for 5 mins & rinse well before cooking.

So why then have grains had such a bad rap in the wellness industry? I've seen all sorts of demonisation of grains, often from wellness influencers online. Some claim that grains are inflammatory or bad for your gut, others claim that grains cause blood sugar issues and should be avoided at all costs. I'm here to tell you that is all nonsense! Whole, unprocessed grains have been widely studied and have proved time and time again that they promote good health, alongside other important food groups.

Regularly adding whole grains to your meals brings with it vital vitamins and minerals, protein, fibre, lignans, and phytochemicals. A great blood-sugar balancing food and a staple of the Mediterranean diet, 2-3 portions of grains per day protects against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and obesity.

But what about gluten?

If you are coeliac or suspect that gluten may be causing you some gastrointestinal distress (gluten-intolerance), then yes eliminating gluten may be the answer. In clinic, for some people with autoimmune conditions, I may recommend eliminating gluten from your diet too. This is because there is some evidence to suggest gluten causing inflammatory cascades to worsen in these conditions. But for everyone else there is no good reason to reduce or remove wholegrains. They are extremely beneficial to your health!

Different grains have different nutritional profiles so ensuring you are switching up the varieties from time to time is a good insurance policy for widening your nourishment net, e.g. some grains contain high iron levels, others are high in protein etc.

What grains do you have every day or every week? If you're struggling to name more than 1 type, why not read my recent blog post I wrote for Indigo Herbs and start by diversifying your breakfast grains. In the blog I show you traditional porridge recipes but using many different grains aside from oats, as well as delicious home made muesli and granola recipes. Click HERE to read it.

Thanks for reading, Annie x


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