Through my research I found there are plenty of foods that fight off inflammation in some way. Antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense, and fibre-full whole grains have been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and improve glucose and insulin responses. Additionally, whole grains have been proven to reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Choosing the right grain
You might be wondering how you can tell if your bread or pasta is truly whole grain, and you’re not alone. With flashy packaging and caramel colouring added, it can be difficult to tell a refined gain from a true whole grain. In order to be a whole grain, the endosperm, germ and bran must all present in the same proportions as was found in the field. As long as the right proportion is there, technically, whole grains can be rolled, ground, cooked, parboiled, extruded, pearled and even milled. You can be sure your bread or pasta or side dish is whole grain if the ingredient list includes the word “whole” as the first ingredient rather than seemingly-healthy but not necessarily whole-grain terms like “unbleached” or “stone ground”.
Timing it right
While fibre-full whole grains are an excellent choice for better health and body composition, you might be wondering where they fit in the hours before a run. To prevent a mid-run pit stop, limit your fibre intake in the hours before a run. In other words, choose a whole grain choice that is rich in carbohydrate, contains a moderate amount of protein, but contains fewer than five grams of fibre per serving. After your run, any whole grain is an excellent choice as they all fit the recovery bill: containing both carbs and protein. Whole grains contain varying levels of total protein and amino acids, so for optimal recovery following exercise, it’s a good idea to add some additional protein to a serving of whole grains. Top a slice of whole wheat toast with a scrambled egg, toss some wheat berries with spinach and grilled chicken breast, add some edamame to a bowl of brown rice, or enjoy a skim latte with your morning whole grain bagel.
One more word to the wise
Even though whole grains are better than refined grains and offer health benefits, they still pack a kilojoule punch. So even though the satiating fibre can be great for dieters, whole grain choices are not kilojoule-free and portion control is important. But don’t avoid grains altogether; there is research that suggests that adults who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less, and a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who consumed a diet rich in whole grains had less belly fat and a smaller waist circumference than individuals who reached for the white bread.
A few whole grain options to add to your grocery cart:
An ancient grain, amaranth is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus and is a good source of protein.
Offering more fibre than any other whole grain, barley is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Be sure to buy whole grain barley; pearled or pearl barley is missing some or all of the bran layer.
Along with zinc, copper and potassium, buckwheat is rich in antioxidants, protein and filling fibre.
Another functional food, oats contain beta-glucan, a fibre that has been found to lower cholesterol.
This gluten-free ancient grain of the Aztecs is a vegan-friendly complete protein.
Brown and red, or other exotic varieties, have distinct textures and flavour and offer rich amounts of fibre, manganese and selenium.
Like oats, rye is a functional food and contains many compounds with potential bioactivities, along with a fibre called arabinoxylan, which is also known for its high antioxidant activity. Research indicates that consuming whole-grain rye has many benefits including improved bowel health, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, and, thanks to the fibre, improved satiety and overall weight management.
Contains more protein, vitamins and minerals than refined. All of the above lead to muscle repair and recovery.