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What Is a Grain?

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What Is a Grain?. A grain is a seed or a fruit of a cereal grass Grains are classified as complex carbohydrates Complex carbohydrates are chains of glucose, a simple sugar, linked together in long chains When you eat a complex carbohydrate, enzymes in your intestine break it down into glucose.

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what is a grain
What Is a Grain?
  • A grain is a seed or a fruit of a cereal grass
  • Grains are classified as complex carbohydrates
    • Complex carbohydrates are chains of glucose, a simple sugar, linked together in long chains
    • When you eat a complex carbohydrate, enzymes in your intestine break it down into glucose
glucose fuels the brain
Glucose Fuels the Brain
  • The brain prefers to use glucose for energy
  • When levels of glucose in the blood fall, it can become difficult to concentrate
    • You may feel weak
    • You may feel nauseated
    • You may feel confused
glucose fuels the brain1
Glucose Fuels the Brain
  • In rats, the more cognitive power required for a task, the more brain glucose is depleted
  • Elderly people who drank a glucose drink recalled almost twice as much from a narrative prose passage as those who drank one with saccharin
fuel your brain
Fuel Your Brain
  • Any carbohydrate can supply the needed glucose for the brain, but foods high in fiber are the best choice because fiber has so many health benefits
  • Low-fat carbohydrates are the best foods for cognitive function
    • Fat can stall the energizing effects of glucose
  • Whole grains are a great source of low-fat carbohydrates that are also high in fiber
today you will learn
Today You Will Learn…
  • The parts of a whole grain
  • What are refined grains?
  • Health benefits of whole grains
  • The truth to this statement: “I am trying to lose weight, so I want to watch my carbs.”
  • Examples of whole grains
  • Outer layers of grain kernel
  • Contains:
    • Fiber
    • B Vitamins
    • Protein
    • Trace Minerals
  • Starchy portion of grain kernel
  • Contains:
    • Protein
    • Complex Carbohydrate
    • Iron
    • Some B Vitamins
  • Embryo of kernel
  • Contains:
    • Vitamin E
    • B Vitamins and Folate
    • Fiber
    • Iron, Magnesium, Chromium, Potassium, Manganese, Copper, Selenium
    • Phytochemical: Phytosterols
what are refined grains1
What Are Refined Grains?
  • Refined grains are made from the endosperm
  • They have the germ and bran removed
  • Examples:
    • White flour
    • White rice
what is a refined grain
What Is a Refined Grain?
  • Removing the germ and bran also removes fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
  • This is done by manufacturers to increase palatability and storage life
did you know
Did you know?
  • Refined white flour has almost the same calorie density as granulated sugar?


1,666 calories per pound

1,755 calories per pound

whole grains have a health claim
Whole Grains Have a Health Claim!

“Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.”– Food and Drug Administration-allowed health claim

  • Contains all portions of the grain kernel
  • Contains 51% whole-grain ingredient(s) or more by weight per reference amount customarily consumed
  • Meets the general requirements for a healthful food – low in fat, etc.
whole grains the base of a healthy diet
Whole Grains: The Base of a Healthy Diet
  • Provide:
    • Carbohydrates – body’s main source of energy
    • Fiber
    • Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
  • Naturally low in fat and sodium
whole grains benefit your health
Whole Grains Benefit Your Health
  • Fiber –
    • Decreases risk for:
      • Heart Disease
      • Diabetes
      • Cancer
    • Helps with:
      • Weight Control
      • Digestive Health

“Whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables are the preferred sources of dietary fiber.”– Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, World Health Organization Report, Geneva 2003

more health benefits of whole grains
More Health Benefits of Whole Grains
  • Lower Calorie Density:
    • Makes you feel full
    • Decreases hunger
    • Reduces calories
    • Aids weight loss

“Energy-dense and micronutrient-poor foods tend to be processed foods that are high in fat and/or sugars. Low

energy-dense foods, such as fruit, legumes, vegetables and whole grain cereals, are high in dietary fiber and water.” – WHO Report

how many whole grains per day
How Many Whole Grains per Day?
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for at least half of your grain servings to come from whole grains

“Consuming at least 3 ounce-equivalents of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, may help with weight maintenance, and may lower risk for other chronic diseases..”

– 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans


“Only 8 percent met the recommendation to eat at least three servings of whole grains per day.”

Source: Linda E. Cleveland et al,, “Dietary Intake of Whole Grains,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 19, no. 3, 331S-338S (2000)

i am trying to lose weight so i want to watch my carbs
“I am trying to lose weight, so I want to watch my carbs.”

“Whether your body weight goes up or down depends on energy balance and not the ratio of fat to carbohydrate to protein in the diet. If you eat excess calories, your body will store some of the fat you eat as body fat.”

– May 2004 Communicating Food for Health Newsletter

is this true
Is This True?
  • Many popular diet books claim that carbohydrates are fattening.
but success from the national weight control registry says
But…Success from the National Weight Control Registry Says…
  • Thousands who maintain a weight loss of 30 pounds or more for at least a year
    • Eat a diet that is low in fat and high in carbohydrate
    • AND they have high levels of physical activity1

1 Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO. “A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;66: 239-46

low carbs do not work long term
Low Carbs Do Not Work Long Term
  • Less than 1% of the participants in the NWCR have used a low-carb diet.1
  • With Dr. Atkins’ book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (1992, 1999) selling more than 10 million copies worldwide, you would think this number would be much higher.2

1 Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO. “A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weigh loss.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;66: 239-46


low carbs equal higher body fat
Low Carbs Equal Higher Body Fat
  • An examination of popular diets found:
    • The Body Mass Indexes (BMI) were significantly lower for men and women on a high-carbohydrate diet
    • The highest BMIs were noted for those on a low-carbohydrate diet.1

1 Kennedy ET, Bowman SA, Spence JT, et al. ”Popular diets: correlation to health, nutrition, and obesity.” J Am Diet Assoc. 2001;101:411-20

how to find whole grains
How to Find Whole Grains
  • Look at the ingredient list
  • Ingredients are listed by weight
  • Foods with whole grains listed first are a good source of whole grains
how to find whole grains1
How to Find Whole Grains
  • Look for the FDA-allowed health claim
  • Foods with this claim must meet certain criteria
examples of whole grains


Brown rice











Whole-grain pasta

Whole wheat

Whole-wheat couscous

Wild rice

Examples of Whole Grains

“Look at all the new foods you get to try!”

  • Quick-cooking barley, pictured on top, is easy to use in soups
  • Cook barley in a rice cooker and serve it like rice pilaf
  • Purchase vegetable barley soup
brown rice
Brown Rice
  • Buy brown rice instead of white rice – it comes in some tasty varieties
  • Use a rice cooker so you don’t have to worry about cooking time
  • The basmati and jasmine rice smell like toasted nuts and have a nice flavor
  • Very easy to cook – add boiling water and allow to stand for 30 minutes
  • Used to make tabouleh salad – the recipe is on the back of the package
  • Found in most grocery stores
  • Use buckwheat flour to make pancakes or muffins
  • Substitute up to 25% (1/4 cup per 1 cup)
  • Corn is a whole grain
  • Look for these common products:
    • on the cob
    • from the can
    • frozen
    • popcorn
    • Whole-grain cornmeal (yellow or blue)
  • Whole-wheat couscous is very mild in flavor, easy to cook and fun to eat
  • Follow package directions
  • Cooks quickly – use like rice
  • Use millet in baking – it can top muffins and breads for a nice crunch
  • Purchase breads made with ground millet seed

“Most people use millet as bird food.”

  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast with fresh fruit, nuts, raisins and spices.
  • Grind and add to pancake mixes, muffin mixes and most baking mixes for up to 25% of the all purpose flour.
  • Use as a side dish like rice pilaf
  • Find in most stores
  • Follow package directions or cook in rice cooker just like rice – 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa
  • Purchase teff flour for a neat addition to your baking pantry
  • Substitute part of the flour (up to 20%) with teff
  • Great for muffins and pancakes
whole wheat pasta
Whole-Wheat Pasta
  • Becoming more popular in grocery stores
  • Comes in different shapes and grains
  • Use it like regular pasta in main dishes, side dishes, salads and soups
whole wheat pastry flour
Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour
  • For light, delicate baked goods such as tart shells and pastries
  • Use as you would all-purpose flour
white whole wheat flour
White Whole-Wheat Flour
  • Mild flavor
  • Easy to use
  • Find in health food stores or online at or
  • Can replace 100% of the all-purpose flour with this product
  • Look what we made on the next slide!
  • What are refined grains?
  • List the parts of a whole grain. (Hint: There are three.)
  • Name one health benefit of whole grains.
  • True or false? Most members of the National Weight Control Registry were successful with long-term weight loss because they followed a low-carb diet.
  • BONUS: List 2 ways you can substitute whole grains for the refined grains in your diet.

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”– William James (1842-1910)