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Grains and Wholegrains

In this first post about the grain grocer’s ingredients we will talk about grains and whole-grains. The amazing bit of nature that gave us our name!

The majority of grains are cereals like wheat, barley, rye and oats, and grew originally wild in vast stands on the temperate plains of western Asia. We started by harvesting them from the wild and 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, we began to plant and tend for them, gradually spreading these crops throughout the rest of the western and central Asia, Europe and North Africa. Around the same time, the inhabitants of tropical and semitropical Asia domesticated rice and, later, maize (corn) arose in Central and South America.

But what exactly is a wholegrain?

Well, according to the British Diabetic Association, a wholegrain is the entire grain of the cereal crop and it is composed of three elements:

  • The bran – the outer layer, rich in fibers;
  • The germ – the middle part, the most nutritious;
  • The endosperm – the central and starchier bit.

Generally the bran and the germ are entirely or partially removed from rice (white varieties) and barley (pearled barley) and what flours (white flours).

Because wholegrains haven’t lost any of their outer layers (even though some wholegrains are still considered as such after losing the bran), they can contain up to 75% more nutrients than refined cereals!

Wholegrains are rich in:

  • Fiber;
  • Complex B vitamins and folic acid;
  • Essential fatty acids (omega 3);
  • Protein;
  • Antioxidants, including Vitamin E and Selenium;
  • Micronutrients, like copper.

But not all cereals we know and use in our daily lives are wholegrains… Some examples of wholegrains are:

  • Wheats – like spelt wheat and durum wheat (such as bulgur);
  • Brown rice;
  • Barley – including naked barley but not pearled;
  • Maize (corn);
  • Rye;
  • Oats – including oats without hull (naked oats);
  • Millet;
  • Wild rice;
  • Buckwheat;
  • Quinoa;

Wholegrains don’t just sound healthy. Evidence is growing that eating wholegrains regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle and diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer of the digestive system. Grains are a complete way of promoting our general health! That is why some lifestyles, such as Macrobiotics have their diets based on wholegrains, as a way of maintaining a balanced physical and emotional wellness.

At the grain grocer we sell an interesting selection of grains, most of them wholegrains!

Now, we’ve teased you with all the benefits of grains, especially whole-grains… Do you want to know more about how to cook them from scratch? Thant’s what we will talk about next week! See you then!

Thank you! =)