Whole, intact, grains can be an essential component of a whole-food, nutrient-dense, Starch-Smart® diet. A whole grain consists of all three parts of the kernel, which are the bran, germ, and endosperm. When any of these are removed in processing, then it is no longer considered a whole, intact, grain. Many people today believe that whole grains are bad but that is unfortunately misguided information.
Grains are a rich source of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fats, phytosterols, lignans, antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoids. Grains are also low in calories and are very satiating which helps us maintain a healthy weight. That said, refining grains does remove these vital nutrients.
Grains have many health benefits. For example, consuming whole grains lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Whole grains also promote growth of the beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract. Over 90% of the grains consumed in the US are refined grains, which raises risk factors for many diseases.
Jeff Novick points out that whole grains are a healthy and nutritious food that should be eaten several times a day. John McDougall MD eloquently defends the consumption of whole grains in his article entitled "For the Love of Grains."