Live Long and Prosper with Whole Grains
You probably know that I am a big fan of whole grains, and you have heard somewhere along the line that these grains are good for you. Sometimes, hearing the latest great news about whole grains helps cut through the clutter of messages we get about food everyday.
The latest is that a new study from the National Cancer Institute found whole grains to be the best food for preventing premature death. According to the results, of the 400,000 people who took part, those that ate the most” Cereal Fiber” had a 22% lower chance of dying from any cause. This study differentiated between the healthy fiber in vegetables and fruits and that of grains, and the grains won out. “We only see significant effects from whole grains,” says the lead author of the study, Yikyung Park. “But we don’t know how this fiber works to improve health.”
In the study, high fiber consumption was around 26-29 grams per day. While the fiber is singled out, the experts suggest that the whole constellation of healthy things in grain, from zinc and minerals to antioxidants and protein, could be essential to the protective effect.
I understand that it is part of the scientific mindset to try to figure out which single piece of the whole food is responsible for its healthy effect. Still, isn’t it obvious that it is the food, not just the fiber or this antioxidant or that mineral?
Whole foods, real foods, are better. We just keep learning this over and over.
So if we are holding up the fiber as the good part, lets start seeking out whole grains with lots of fiber.You might be surprised to find that the fiber content of whole grains varies widely.
A serving of whole, cooked grain (16 grams) ranges from the low end, brown rice at .6 g, to the highest, kamut, at 3.1. Bulghur has 2.9 and barley 2.8 g. Some lower fiber grains include quinoa, wild rice, and corn, but all of these whole grains have everything else that comes with whole-ness, so they are still far better than white versions.
If we learn anything from this study, it is that whole grains should be at the center of a healthy diet. Vegetables, fruits, beans and all the other contributors of fiber also contain their own perfectly balanced arrays of nutrients, antioxidants, and probably elements that we don’t even know about yet.
It’s the food, people. Whole Real, simple.
So, maybe this fiber quest will give us the motivation to seek out one of the most delicious grains, Kamut. This member of the wheat family is a striking and delicious grain, with the biggest kernel of just about any grain. The big, buttery golden kamut berries cook up with a slight crunch and a tender, sweet center. They are perfect for grain salads, like the recipe link below.
Try this simple recipe, using kamut instead of quinoa. To cook kamut, soak overnight in cool water, then drain. Put in a pot with plenty of water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about an hour, until the grains are starting to split, and they are tender in the center when you bite into one. Drain and let cool.