Grains: healthy or not?

Fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and the good health of our microbiota make the choice clear in favor of unrefined or low-refined products.

Full priority! The French public health organization emphasizes the benefits of consumption bread, pasta and unrefined grains in its new dietary recommendations. And for good reason: whole grain are the most French menus, which 60% of adults do not eat. Although from a nutritional point of view, the choice of “white” products is problematic. During refining, the grain is stripped of its fiber-rich bran coat and micronutrient-rich germ to leave only the spare tissue, which is essentially starch. In other words, they are significantly impoverished: from whole wheat to refined wheat, we lose 78% of fiber, 25% of protein, as well as a considerable amount of minerals and vitamins (95% of vitamin E, 87% of vitamin B6, 81% of vitamin B2, 80% of vitamin B3, 73% vitamin B1, 84% magnesium, 70% iron, 69% phosphorus, 60% sodium, 46% calcium, etc.) And that’s not all…

As preventive nutrition researcher Anthony Fardet (Clermont-Auvergne University / Inrae) explains: “Naturally, whole grains have complex sugars trapped with the fibers in the food matrix: making them more filling and less tempting to consume.” » In stark contrast to refined grains, where these sugars act like fast sugars. Also, if nutritionists point to the need to eat whole grains, it’s because there’s a consensus on their interest. obesity and Type 2 diabetestwo diseases whose progression worries the World Health Organization.

Read the labels carefully at the supermarket

However, it is necessary to be careful with the meaning of the words and read the labels carefully. “It can be found on the shelves of shopping centers cereal for breakfast children who are said to be “full”. However, it is wheat or rice that has undergone a cooking-extrusion or puffing process that has completely changed the structure of the starch, making it highly digestible (with a high glycemic index). The same is true of many processed foods made from refined flour to which bran or fiber is added: it is not a naturally whole starch, but a reconstituted whole. claims Anthony Fardet.

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The difference is not insignificant. “When fibers are naturally present in their matrix, their entanglement causes them to ferment in the colon and be digested by the intestinal flora in several stages. In this way, they will promote biodiversity microbiota, says the scientist. However, when the fibers are isolated and incorporated into a product, as in so-called “whole grain” sandwich bread, the microorganisms are not targeted in the same way as, for example, those whose role was to separate the fibers from their matrix. , are no longer stimulated. In other words, the natural work of digestion is not allowed to do, which harms microbial biodiversity. In addition, purified and added fiber has less good physicochemical properties, such aswater holding capacity. » Therefore, whole grains are preferred, but be careful and consider the way they are produced. In fact, pesticide residues are found in the husk of the grain. Therefore, it is better to label “organic” if you want to use whole grains, and if not, prefer semi-fine grains of 65 or 80 brown flour.

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