Wholegrains literally mean you eat the whole grain, including the bran, the germ and the delightfully named endosperm.
According to Diabetes UK, the endosperm is the central part of the grain and is a concentrated source of starch. The outer most layer, the bran, is a rich source of insoluble dietary fibre, B-vitamins and phytochemicals. The germ is a concentrated source of protein, ‘healthy’ fats, B vitamins and vitamin E.
For my wholemeal bread recipe I use stoneground wholemeal bread flour, and across the board we have switched all of our starchy foods to wholemeal versions.
I will now always buy brown rice, brown pasta, whole porridge oats and wholemeal bread and wraps, if I don’t make my own.
Wholegrains provide us with a good source of energy, dietary fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. They can even help lower cholesterol in the blood and reduce our risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
There is a lot of media focus at the moment on foods that are low on the Glycaemic Index (GI). Foods that are low on the index don’t cause such a spike in our blood sugars. Starchy carbs are processed in the body as sugars so can cause quite a hefty spike in the blood sugars. Wholegrains are processed slower and so are lower GI and will keep us feeling fuller and fuelled for longer.
Some researchers, food bloggers, medics and scientists believe that we should be avoiding carbs and focusing entirely on low GI foods to prevent or even cure diabetes, and also prevent heart disease. Having spoken to several doctors myself, they are unable to tell me if the effect on heart disease is direct or indirect. For example, they were unable to tell me if reducing blood sugar spikes directly prevents heart disease, or if low GI foods in turn lead to reduced obesity, and so a reduced risk of heart disease. This is something I plan to research further.
We, however tend to eat lower GI foods anyway. For example, stoneground wholemeal flour is lower GI than standard wholemeal, and so I use that when I’m baking bread. We’ve adapted to enjoying wholemeal versions of things more as they are nuttier, more toothsome and more filling.