Hello there beautiful people, I hope you’re all feeling great and are enjoying the start to your weekend.
As you can tell from the title, the topic at hand today is GRAINS – the good, the great and the tasty!
The title may be a bit of an exaggeration, I won’t be discussing every single grain under the sun but I’ll be sharing some insight about popular grains many of us use regularly.
I have shared similar content here in the past, here are some links to blog posts covering Rice, Lentils and Carbs (in general). Just click on the links below to find out more – very interesting reads (if I do say so myself).
Since I’ve already covered RICE in depth in a previous post, I won’t be adding any rice varieties to the list of grains discussed today.
So let’s start from the very beginning – What is a GRAIN?
Basically, grains are dry seeds that are edible from plans known as cereals. GRAINS provide more food energy (calories) worldwide than any other food source. The most common grains used for human consumption are rice and wheat. I’ve already shared a detailed post about rice and will be discussing wheat in a later post because wheat is easily the most debated, loved and hated grain there is so I will have a lot to share about this.
Grains have played a vital role in human history and have been essential for our ancestors survival and the survival of many even today. They are easily and cheaply grown and have been widely used for centauries.
Whole grains are far more nutritious than refined grains. Refined grains are often referred to as ’empty calories’, which while fine in moderate amounts, are not nutrient dense and therefore need not make a large part of our diets. The difference between whole and refined grains is the removal of the husk or outer bran and germ of the grain has been removed. Once this outer layer is removed to produced refined grains, you lose with it all the fibre, magnesium, manganese, B Vitamins, Selenium and folate in the process.
Today I will be discussing four commonly used grains, starting with a very popular one, QUINOA.
QUINOA is technically not a grain, but it is often classified and used as one so I’m including it here. Quinoa is a grain-like plant grown for its edible seeds that are now widely used all over the world. Quinoa is a very different grain that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. While still carbohydrate dense, quinoa is also considered a complete protein. What this means is that it contains all the essential amino acids making it an excellent option for a more balanced diet especially for those following more of a plant based diet.
Quinoa is naturally gluten free and contains a lot of fibre (much higher than other grains) and many minerals and vitamins including B Vitamins, iron and calcium. While still a carbohydrate dense food, quinoa had a low glycaemic index which means that once consumed, blood sugar does not go up as high as it would when consuming high carb foods and is therefore better for blood sugar levels.
Quinoa Properties per 100g (cooked):
Total Fat 1.2g, Saturated Fat 0.2g, Carbohydrates 21g, Dietary Fibre 2.8g, Sugar 0.9g, Protein 4.4g
Millet grain is a small cereal grain that is grown throughout Asia and Africa and can withstand very harsh climates making it easily grown and cheaply available. It is a starchy protein rich grain that is also high in important minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
Although perhaps not as popular as quinoa, is equally nutritious. Millet Grain is high in protein, fibre, antioxidants and also gluten free. Millet contains soluble fibre which helps lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Millet Properties per 100g (cooked):
Total Fat 1g, Saturated Fat 0.2g, Carbohydrates 24g, Dietary Fibre 1.3g, Sugar 0.1g, Protein 3.5g
Pearl Barley (orzo) is a whole grain barley that has nutrient content similar to wheat. It is used mainly in soups and stews and makes a very hearty grain option. Pearl barley is somewhat processed in that it’s hull has been removed to produce the ‘pearled’ version of this grain. However, it is not fully processed and still contains a wide variety of nutrients that are very beneficial for human consumption.
It is very high in fibre, both soluble and insoluble – Learn more about fibre HERE: Why do we need FIBRE? – which is very important for digestion and cholesterol control. It is also very beneficial for gut health which in turn is very important for overall health (particularly immune system and mental health).
Pearl Barley Properties per 100g (cooked):
Total Fat 0.4g, Saturated Fat 0.1g, Carbohydrates 28g, Dietary Fibre 3.8g, Sugar 0.3g, Protein 2.3g
Finally, let’s take a look at Bulgar Wheat.
Bulgar wheat is Bulgur is a grain consisting of groats of wheat. The groat, is the whole wheat grain, consisting of the cereal germ, most of the bran (the fiber-rich coating), and the endosperm (usually what refined white flour consists of).
Fine bulgur (as seem above) is great for tabbouleh or as breakfast porridge. The more coarse varieties are good for adding hearty texture to soups. Bulgur is a whole grain, meaning it does contain a considerable amount of fiber and nutrients. However, the different grain varieties discussed above (quinoa, barley and millet) are considerably more nutrient dense making them healthier options.
Fine Bulgar Properties per 100g (cooked):
Total Fat 0g, Carbohydrates 18.6g, Dietary Fibre 4.5g, Sugar 0.1g, Protein 3g
All grains are considered carbs – while carbohydrates may sometimes be vilified and deemed bad or fattening, keep in mind that they can also be very nutritious and beneficial for our health.
Remember, no matter which grain you prefer or choose to cook, nutrition and food choice is more about finding a balance between nutrient content and enjoyment.
No food is good or bad in isolation. Some foods may and do contain more important nutrients than others but that in no way means that nutrient content should be the ONLY deciding factor in your food choice. As nanna always says ‘ftit min kollox’ which translates to ‘a little of everything’.
That’s it from me for today – I’ll be back with a new blog post Every Single Saturday 🙂
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Until my next post, be well xXx