Nutritional powerhouse: Here's a low down on why you should eat grains

India is one of those countries where herbs have been used extensively as therapeutic tools in all walks of life. We've grown up with ours grandmothers prescribing medicinal herbs for all kinds of illnesses. As children, we were never sure about anything that looked green and leafy as far as taste was concerned, but we were sure that it would eventually work towards the betterment of our health. 

Are you one of those who has ditched grains from your daily diet? Have you embraced some of the recent diet fads like paleo and keto diets? Or do you believe that cutting carbs by eliminating grains is part of healthy eating? Here's a low down on why you should be eating grains. 

Grains need no introduction

Grains have been at the heart of Indian diets for at least 10,000 years. 

Grains for the growing world

The world has more than 50,000 edible plants but only three (rice, wheat, and corn) provide 60 per cent of the world's food energy and are a staple to four billion people.

Grains are at the centre-stage of most dietary guidelines across the globe 

Be it dietary guidelines for Indians from National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research (2011) or any other country, grain foods occupy the most important place and have been form the base position in a food-guide pyramid.

Grains are important sources of energy 

Grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which eventually convert to glucose in the body. Glucose is the most preferred source of energy 

by the brain. That is why it makes sense to start the day with a grain-based breakfast after an overnight fast since grains help fuel the brain and body with much-needed energy and important nutrients.

Besides complex carbohydrates that provide much-needed energy, grains are a good source of fibre. Fibre, which is an indigestible carbohydrate, does not enter the body but plays a protective role in the gut. Evidence from several studies has established that diets which are high in fibre can reduce the risk of Type-2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as bowel cancer, breast cancer, gallstones, diverticular disease and weight gain. 

Cereal fibre is the most important fibre (as compared to fruit or vegetable fibre) in reducing the risks of such diseases. 

While most of us do not associate grains with protein, grains provide approximately 20 per cent of the protein consumed by more than half of the world's population. 

Grains are also a good source of some B vitamins, which help release energy in the body.

With all the beneficial and health protective that grains have to offer, it is important that you re-instate your faith in this age-old food group and include a variety of grains in your diet as our ancestors did.

Madhavi Bhatt Trivedi, Nutritionist and health care writer, Kellogs, India

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