Whole Grain for Whole Nutrition: Health Benefits of Whole Grains

Gluten Free Apple Crisp – included in the Acme Whole Grain Bakery Box

In celebration of the launch of our Acme Whole Grain Bakery Box and our second bakery box challenge, we wanted to take a moment to talk about whole grains and what makes them so nutritious.

First off, what makes a whole grain whole? Simply put, whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel. Refined grains contain only one part of the grain—the endosperm—as the other two parts are stripped away in the refining process. Enriched grains are just refined grains with some of the nutrients lost during processing replaced.

Health Benefits of Whole Grain

Each part of the grain has health benefits, so by consuming all three parts you are getting the full nutrition of the grain. Here are the three parts of a grain kernel and the nutrients they contain:

  • The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain that contains B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds in plants that have been researched for their role in disease prevention. Bran and fiber slow the breakdown of starch into glucose—thus helping to maintain regular blood sugar rather than causing sharp spikes. Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol and to help move waste through the digestive tract. Fiber may also help prevent the formation of small blood clots that can trigger heart attacks or strokes.
  • The endosperm is the interior layer that holds carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals. This is the only part of the grain left in refined and enriched grains.
  • The germ is the core of grain and is rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Phytochemicals and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and copper found in whole grains may protect against some cancers.
Seeded Whole Grain Quick Bread – included in the Acme Whole Grain Bakery Box

If whole grains are so much healthier, why do so many products and recipes use refined grains? Milling leaves only the soft, easy-to-digest endosperm. Without the fibrous bran, this makes refined grains easier to chew. The germ is removed in milling because the fat it contains can limit the shelf life of processed wheat products.

Refined flour is fluffy and does help to make airy and light pastries and breads—but the refining process also strips away more than half of wheat’s B vitamins, 90 percent of vitamin E, and nearly all of the fiber. Although some nutrients may be added back in by enrichment and fortification after refining, other health-promoting components of whole grains such as phytochemicals are unable to be replaced.

Incorporating Whole Grains in Your Diet

Swapping out refined grains for whole grains when possible is a great way to get all the benefits of whole grains. Some whole grains you may consider incorporating into your baking and diet: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, oats, popcorn, wild rice, quinoa, spelt, teff, sorghum, kamut, and whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers.

Whole Grain Cheese Crackers – included in the Acme Whole Grain Bakery Box

Our Whole Grain Bakery Box is also a great way to learn 8 tasty baked good recipes full of whole grains! Order your Whole Grain Bakery Box by Wednesday, February 24 at midnight so you don’t miss out on these recipes and the opportunity to win prizes in our Bakery Box Challenge!

Happy baking and warm wishes,
– Your Acme Team

Sources:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – “The Nutrition Source: Whole Grains”

Mayo Clinic – “Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet”

Citrus: For Health and Pleasure

If you have never expressed an orange peel (or any other citrus peel), we encourage you to try it the next time you get your hands on a citrus fruit. Express the citrus oils over tea, a glass of ice water, ice cream, or simply into the air. The bright, aromatic oils released are like pure sunshine to the nose.

Citrus fruits have been used to add character to both food and beverage since ancient times, and have historically been sought after for their medicinal properties—used to combat sickness, intestinal ailments, skin conditions, gout, scurvy, an antidote to poison, and as an antiseptic during times of plague.

Not all these uses of citrus hold up today, but modern science has come to know much more about what makes citrus so nutritious. This week’s Acme curated meal boxes feature a variety of citrus fruits: orange, grapefruit, and blood orange. We wanted you to know some of the health benefits you will get from these citrus fruits in addition to the flavor they bring to this week’s recipes.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has many benefits. We need vitamin C to maintain healthy skin, bones, blood vessels and connective tissues, and it strengthens our immune system. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant that might help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals and fight inflammation. By reducing inflammation, vitamin C may prevent or delay heart disease conditions like arthritis and some types of cancer.

Flavonoids

Ever heard of a flavonoid? Flavonoids are plant-based nutrients that create the bright color and the familiar aroma of citrus. Citrus fruits are an important source of dietary flavonoids!

Studies indicate citrus flavonoids protect cells against the damage of free radicals. Through a direct scavenging of free radicals, citrus flavonoids can reduce inflammation. Consequently, those anti-inflammatory pathways provide therapeutic benefits against cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes.

Fresh salad with avocado and grapefruit on a stone table. organic diet food. top view

Citrus flavonoids can also protect against diabetes by improving glucose tolerance, increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity, and decreasing insulin resistance and also may play a significant role in the development of antiobesity agents, reducing obesity and adipose tissue inflammation.

Also importantly, citrus flavonoids have the ability to modulate gut bacteria (microbiome) composition and activity and exert beneficial effects on intestinal barrier function and gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation.

Dietary Fiber

When you think about fiber, perhaps you first think of grains and rice. But citrus fruits are high in dietary fiber as well! Citrus fruits contain both types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber—both of which are important!

Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol, reducing cardiovascular disease. This type of fiber can also help improve glucose control by slowing the absorption of sugar resulting in better blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation by helping food move more efficiently through the digestive system and increases stool bulk.

If you are looking to get more fiber in your diet, we recommend not adding too much fiber too quickly, as this can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet bit by bit over a few weeks to allow the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust. Also drink plenty of water along with your fiber, as fiber works best when it absorbs water.

Even More Benefits

Among other benefits, citrus fruits also have a low glycemic index (meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much as some other foods) and are high in potassium, and other essential nutrients such as folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

Upside down blood orange cake on old dark concrete background. Rustic stile. Selective focus

It is important to know that some citrus fruits—such as grapefruit, pomelo, and orange fruits— can interact with medications. If you are taking medications, please consult with your healthcare provider before adding those fruits to your diet.

We hope you enjoy this week’s citrus recipes and that the bright and tangy citrus flavors of this week’s recipes bring some warmth to your winter.

With love,
Your Acme Team

Sources

“The Powerful Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits” – University of Washington

“7 Reasons to Eat More Citrus Fruits” – Healthline

“9 Surprising Health Benefits of Citrus Fruit” – Health

“Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet” – Mayo Clinic