Traditionally, food, especially grains, was refined as a preservative measure – to reduce insect infestation and to ensure that it kept for longer. So, why are refined foods bad? I’m glad you asked. To answer that question I think it’s best to understand what refining is. Whole grains are made up of three principal parts, the kernel, the germ and the bran. Processing strips the grain of the bran and the germ, together with their ample nutrient-dense stores, leaving only the calorie dense kernel. Now you can see what the problems is.
Most of the grain’s nutrients are contained in the bran and germ. The germ is a rich source of vitamins B and E, and minerals including iron and calcium, as well as some fat and proteins. the bran, which forms the outer coating of grains provides niacin, fibre and minerals. These are important nutrients, necessary for a healthy diet and healthy eating. Basically, refining produces food with a longer shelf life is, at the expense of all this nutritious goodness. The remaining kernel is packed full of calories, provided by the ample starch and protein stores. Some examples of refined foods include white flour, white bread and white sugar.
The answer to refined foods is whole-foods, which include whole grain foods, beans, lentils and nuts. The nutritional benefits wholefoods include promotion of good digestive function, help regulating blood sugar levels and cholesterol, with an overall benefit of reducing the risk of heart disease. Refined foods are so nutritionally diminished that some, like white flour have to be fortified with vitamins B1 and B2, iron and calcium. From the above discussion it is evident that refined foods are less healthier than their whole-grain equivalents. Because they are nutritionally limited and calorie dense, they are especially bad for those trying to lose weight or on calorie restricted diets. This is not to say that refined foods should be eliminated from one’s diet, but limiting their consumption, and increasing the amount of wholefoods in the diet goes a long way in promoting good health and well-being. In controlled quantities they can be incorporated into good healthy eating plans.
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