Today’s average American diet is loaded with refined grains and carbohydrates, such as white flour and white rice. White bread, many cereals, cakes, cookies and pies are loaded with these refined grains and carbs, making these foods less nutritional than those made with whole grains, not to mention that they come with added calories, fat and sugar.
Too many refined carbohydrates can lead to a diabetic downfall. That’s why we all should strive to make half of our grains whole every day because whole grains are complex carbohydrates (good carbs!), that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains are important for everyone to include in their diet, but especially for diabetics. The more fiber the better, for blood sugar control.
Refined Grains vs. Whole Grains
Refined grains are produced when the bran and germ of the original grain are removed. In doing so, the majority of the nutrients and fiber are stripped away.
Whole grains are intact, meaning 100% of the original grain still remains (the bran, germ and endosperm). These nutritional powerhouses are full of nutrients, vitamins and fiber that their refined counterparts lack. In addition to fiber, whole grains are often high in phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. Fiber helps us to achieve satiety and helps with gastric motility (keeps the pipes clean and those bowels moving !). Magnesium assists in the absorption of calcium in the body and to regulate body temperature. Manganese helps the body to better manage oxidative stress. Phosphorus plays a role in bone and teeth development, as well as, the production of protein to help our damaged cells repair themselves and new cells to grow.
Types of Whole Grains
*denotes gluten free whole grains
- Brown Rice*
- Whole wheat bread, pasta, and crackers
- Oats*(Be sure to make sure they are uncontaminated GF oats as oats are often cross contaminated with gluten during production)
- Wheat varieties such as: spelt, faro, einkorn, durum, emmer
What is a serving of whole grains?
According to the U.S. Guidelines, a serving of whole grains is ½ cup cooked rice, bulgur, pasta or cooked cereal; 1 ounce of dry pasta, rice or grain; 1 slice of bread; 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal. For diabetes meal planning, it is important to make sure that you are counting carbohydrates appropriately when following the recommended serving of who grains. Remember, 1 carbohydrate serving = 15g carbohydrate. 1 carb serving of brown rice or whole wheat pasta = 1/3 cup cooked, 1 carb serving of oatmeal or bulgar = 1/2 cup cooked, and 1 carb serving of bread = 1 slice.
Looking for a recipe to try using whole grains? Try this butternut squash and quinoa pilaf recipe from Diabetic Living!
By Erin Brasch, MS RD LD, Diabetes Treatment Center, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital