|From Stock Photos|
I scoured the internet looking for reasons to eat grains. I want to find out what grains (unprocessed, whole grains) have that fruits and vegetables do not. Is there a reason that we need to eat grains?
Reason #1 - According to the American Heart Association's Grocery Shopping tips, grains, or in this case, breads, provide fiber. This is true.
Reason #2 - The Mayo clinic states that grains contain vitamins and minerals. Again, this is a valid statement.
Reasons #3&4 - The Whole Grain Council adds antioxidants to the list of benefits as well as this statement: "The medical evidence is clear that whole grains reduce risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Few foods can offer such diverse benefits." I can agree with the antioxidant statement and will even support that there have been studies showing that grains have been shown to be effective in reducing the risks of several diseases. Although it is difficult to hold back, I will not get into the validity of those studies in this post, I will just acknowledge their existence.
Reasons #5&6 - From the Wheat Foods Council, we get the fact that wheat contains folic acid which reduces the risk of birth defects.
Reasons #7-31 - Kansas State (linked via the Whole Grain Council) states that grains provide energy, B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, tocopherols, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, glutamine, phytoestrogens, lignans, flavonoids, oligosaccharides, inositol, phenolics, saponins, lectins, protease inhibitors, decrease cholesterol, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
A lot of these resources have a financial interest in the consumption of grains and I have used their information in the attempt to keep a balanced perspective. All of the resources above neglected to mention which grains were used in their nutritional studies and what the nutritional content would be after processing and cooking. Without attacking grains (yet), let's just look and see if we can get the same benefits from a couple of vegetable staples.
|From Stock Photos|
|From Stock Photos|
After looking at several nutritional websites, I found that a bell pepper and floret of broccoli contain all of the same vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals that make grains beneficial to our health, albeit in different amounts. An interesting thing to note is that some nutrients listed as present in grains are also produced naturally within the body, meaning there is no reason to ingest them. We can conclude from this that vegetables can provide the same health benefits as grains. I think that any rational person would agree with me so far.
My sources of nutritional info:
Seeing how veggies and grains provide similar nutrients, I'd like to take a look at the negative effects of veggies and grains.
It would be easier to look at veggies first. Well, its pretty tough to find any negative sides to eating vegetables. Some nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, etc..) seem to irritate arthritis and neurological conditions in a small number of people. However, for the most part, vegetables seem to be relatively consequence free for a majority of people.
Grains, on the other hand, seem to have a few more issues. A lot of my info for the rest of this article is pulled from this study, which compiled well over 300 reputable sources into a 55 page report on the effects of grain consumption. Here, I try to sum up the directly linked effects in a concise list.
- Grains have been shown to lead to Vitamin D deficiencies. [pg. 14]
- Grains contain phytates, which blocks one pathway to iron absorption. [pg. 14]
- Grains contain phytates, which blocks absorption of zinc. [pg. 15]
- Grains increase Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios. [pg. 16]
- Grains contain linoleic acid which block the formation of EPA. [pg. 17]
- Grains contain Alkylresorcinols which have many health implications including kidney damage. [pg. 25]
- Grains contain lectins which can bind to many human cells, affecting how they function. [pg. 28]
- Grains are directly linked to Celiac disease. [pg. 47]
- Grains are directly linked to dermatitis herpetiformis. [pg. 47-48]
I plan to elaborate on this list in a future post.
This list is simply the direct and proven effects grains have. I have not included the numerous secondary and implicated effects that exist (insulin spikes, grains replacing more nutritious foods, etc).
Please click on any portion of the list to see what exactly those substances or effects have to do with the human body. To answer my question at the beginning of the post, (What do grains have that veggies don't?) I would say that veggies don't have the higher chance of negative side effects.