What are whole grains? Whole grains are foods naturally coming from the entire grain seed. All grains start as whole grains, whether it stays that way depends on us. When they are growing in the fields the whole grain is the whole seed of the plant called the kernel. Whole grains are made up of three important parts; the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Before a food qualifies as whole grain it must have 100% of the kernel, which means all of the bran, germ, and endosperm must be present. The bran of the whole grain has several layers of outer skin and this surrounds the kernel. The bran is tough; one of its jobs is to protect the other parts of the kernel from beaming rays from the sun, insects, water, and disease. The most important job it has is to give the whole grain its antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber. The germ of the whole grain is the embryo and when fertilized it will reproduce. The germ contains many B vitamins, protein, minerals, and healthy fats. Their job is to reproduce to make new plants to enrich the whole grain with vitamins. The endosperm is what feeds the germ. The endosperms job is to give needed energy to the plant so it can grow roots down for water and nutrients, and give it energy to sprout upward for sunlight. The endosperm is the largest part of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Another job, like the rest, is to give it its nutritious factors.
Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Processing the whole grain generally removes the bran and the germ, just leaving the endosperm. By removing the bran and germ around 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, as well as key nutrients. Processors do add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich the processed grains, so they still contain valuable nutrients. But whole grains are way healthier because is gives more protein, more fiber and many important vitamins and minerals that is taken out during the...
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