Whole Grain Breads – Good Or Bad? - Healthy Eating, Cooking, and Baking Blog at Allrecipes.com - 282900

Healthy Eating, Cooking, and Baking

Whole Grain Breads – Good or Bad? 
Aug. 29, 2012 1:47 am 
Updated: Sep. 1, 2012 1:04 am
In the last few years, there have been many debates, opinions, and some research on the subject of whether whole grains are good or bad. Many people have chosen to avoid eating grain all together rather than do the research to find out why grain might be detrimental to our health. Although grains are generally the primary topic in these debates, many of the characteristics of grain can also be applied to all legumes and nuts. In my previous post, I talked about the phytic acid in seeds (including legumes, rice, and nuts) that nature provides as a means of protecting the seeds from trying to grow in conditions that they would not survive, an how phytase (an enzyme) is activated to break down the phytic acid  when warmth and moisture provide ideal growing conditions. For us to understand how all of this works, it is also important to know the parts of a seed and how they work together. This also helps provide an understanding of what we are eating when we buy white bread, white rice, or other processed grains. My intent in this article, and others to come, are to spark your concern, and or curiosity, enough that you will do some research on your own. The subjects that I will be presenting to you are extensive, and a whole book might be written on each subject that would still not cover all of the available information.
I will not get into a detailed botanical explanation of how a seed is produced, or even every miniscule part of a seed – even though it is quite interesting. For our purposes, it is important to know about only 3 parts of a seed – the seed coating, the endosperm, and the embryo. The seed coating is the part of the seed that protect everything inside from the elements and from damage. The thickness of the seed coating varies depending on the seed. Seeds with a thicker coating must be soaked longer for the seed coating to be penetrated, and germination will take longer than for seeds with a thinner coating. For our purposes, this is the reason that legumes (beans) require a longer soaking time than most grains. The seed coating in grains is called the bran which contains important antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.  The next important layer in a seed is the endosperm. This is the area of the seed that nutrients are stored that will be provided to the embryo of the seed when it begins to grow. This is also the part of the seed that is protected by the phytic acid so that nutrients aren’t released until growing conditions are optimum. The endosperm contains starchy carbohydrates, and some proteins, vitamins and minerals which vary with the seed type.  The germ, or embryo, is the part of the plant that, if fertilized, will sprout into a new plant when the nutrients are released from the endosperm. The germ of the seed contains B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.
So why do we need to know all of this botanical mumbo gumbo? The reason is that by knowing about all of this we can better understand what happens to processed grains such as those in white bread, white flour, white rice, etc. It also helps us to understand how processed grains can be harmful to our health.
Refining grains normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and the germ, about 25% of the grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors to add back some of vitamins and minerals to “enrich” refined grains, but the nutrients added are generally chemically manufactured and not natural.  So let’s take this thought to the next level.
If only the endosperm of the grain, which is primarily starch, is used in white flours and breads that means that these products are high in starch regardless of any nutrients that may have been added back to “enrich” them. Our bodies process starch into sugar. This knowledge causes more questions and more that I have not only researched but tested. Many children are given a lot of white bread in sandwiches, PB&J, etc. In recent years, diabetes in children has increased. Research has shown that increased starches, i.e., sugar, overload the liver that cannot handle the load to cleanse the blood, and eventually causes malfunction of the pancreas causing diabetes which is an inability to convert sugar to energy. Those of us that have been around for a while know that diabetes in children in past years was rare. Today it is quite common. Studies report that in 1985 1 to 2 percent of children with diabetes had Type 2. By 1995 the number was at 17%, and more recently the count has risen to 30 to 40 percent of children with diabetes now have type 2.
In my own experience, I learned a year or so ago that my daughter, 45 year old, had been diagnosed with diabetes. At this point, I have no control over her diet, but I started making all of her bread. Some are whole grain and some part whole grain, but all are baked after a long fermentation. She has told me that she has been able to control her blood sugar and avoid insulin shots by eating only the bread that I give her and avoiding any store bought breads. One thing that I hadn’t mentioned previously is that long fermentation reduces the amount of sugars in grain. The reason for this is that the growing yeast uses the sugars for food thus reducing natural sugars in the flour.
At this point, some of you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to bake bread, especially long ferment bread. I buy whole grain bread from the store. So I am supplying my family with whole grain bread”. I can only caution you to carefully read labels. Bread can be labeled as whole grain if it has any whole grain in it. This can mean nothing more than a sprinkling of grain on the top of the bread. The darker color of many “whole grain” breads is achieved with coloring and is not natural.
So I believe that the question as to whether whole grains are good or bad depends on the way that they are used. In my next post, I will go a little deeper into some of the processing of “healthy” grains and how the activation of phytase can differ from one grain to another.
Aug. 29, 2012 1:52 am
can't find cardamom almond biscotti by verna ebertart and almond citrus biscotti
Aug. 29, 2012 2:21 am
judy2304: I am enjoying your explanations of this often-confusing subject. I look forward to your next lesson.
Aug. 29, 2012 6:53 am
Your blogs have been very interesting. With reports of high levels of arsenic in brown rice I was wondering if you still use it. I know you mentioned preparing rice in a rice cooker in a previous blog.
Aug. 29, 2012 11:40 am
I do grind my own grains and soak them. I really appreciate your blogs on this as it helps me realize that it was a good choice to pay for the mill. Any recipes you might have also for your whole grain breads are appreciated, as I have only been doing this for a few months! :) I've got hard red, hard white and some soft white for pastry. I use mostly the hard white cuz my DH likes the milder flavor more, but I like the red. Haven't used the pastry yet, but hope to soon
Aug. 29, 2012 3:23 pm
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on GMOs and how "engineered" seeds may play into the nutritional value of various foods. I have also found the nutrition labels often are so obsucure they are almost useless. Ther is high fructose corn syrup in almost everything! That loaf may be whole grain, but if it is loaded with HFC you have wasted your money. I really enjoy your blogs.
Aug. 29, 2012 6:41 pm
Great reading, thanks for the information.
Aug. 29, 2012 11:20 pm
Marie, I hadn't heard anything about high levels of arsenic in brown rice, and yes, I still use it. This is something I will look into, and get back to you. So much information has to be filtered.
Aug. 29, 2012 11:30 pm
Petey, I plan to submit my bread recipes when I have time. I most often tweak any recipes that I find, and some get changed quite a bit. All are converted to long fermentation. Sorry, but I agree with your wife. I prefer the milder taste of the hard white wheat. I have used soft and hard white wheat in making cornbread instead of all-purpose flour. Mixing the two reduces the protein of the hard white so there is less gluten. This has worked well. Subbing a little of the soft wheat for hard wheat in bread makes the bread a little lighter. Don't use too much, though, or you won't get a good rise. Many of my breads include other grains like quinoa, steel cut oats, and cracked 9 grain cereal. I will be getting into a lot of this later. There is just so much to share that it is good for people to be aware of.
Aug. 29, 2012 11:38 pm
BigShotMom, You hit on one of my specialities. The whole story of GMOs, how they began, how they got approved by FDA, the damage they cause, and the lack of knowledge in the U.S. is just incredible. It is unbelievable how many people know nothing about them or think they are just fine because the FDA approved them. I plan to talk about GMOs after I get through the posts about whole grains. Corn and soy are the two largest of the GMO crops. Over 90% of all corn and soy grown in the U.S. is GMO, and they are in almost all condiments, margarines, and even in the meats sold in the store. I will get into all of this in detail in future posts.
Aug. 29, 2012 11:57 pm
Marie, I found some answers on the arsenic in brown rice. First of all, it varies depending on where the rice is grown, and is absorbed from the water that it grows in. There is organic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic is not absorbed by the body and is urinated out. The arsenic in rice is organic, and not absorbed by the body. Most articles don't differentiate between the two types of arsenic. We eat a lot of brown rice, and haven't had any ill effects from it, at least not yet. You might find this article interesting. http://blogs.discovery.com/dfh-sara-novak/2012/06/arsenic-in-rice-and-brown-rice-syrup-how-dangerous-is-it.html
Aug. 29, 2012 11:58 pm
Marie, I also found out that arsenic is found in apple juice and grape juice.
Aug. 30, 2012 1:55 am
Petey, I have added a couple of my favorite bread recipes. The 100% whole wheat is wonderful, and you can use either hard white or hard red wheat flour.
Aug. 30, 2012 4:26 am
Thank you. I have read many articles on brown rice and switched to farro and pearled barley sometime ago. I buy very few pre-made products so brown rice syrup has not been a problem for us.
Aug. 31, 2012 5:52 am
I mill my own wheat, and make bread for my family. I tried the overnight in the fridge, and it workded out great! Do you take the bread out of the fridge, and put it in the bread tins right away, or do you let it warm up first? I find it pretty hard to use cold bread dough. Do you need to add more yeast to a recipe?? I would love to see some recipes!
Sep. 1, 2012 12:48 am
Marie, I raise parrots, and feed them primarily a natural diet made of cooked foods. Brown rice is one of the ingredients that I use in the mix that I make for them. Since parrots are extremely sensitive to toxins of any kind. If the arsenic in brown rice were digesitible and absorbed by the body, I think that I would have seen problems in my parrots. In the over 3 years that I have been using this diet for them, I have seen only beneficial results. There has been no illness, no heart failure, liver malfunction, and, in fact, no health problems at all. I really have to question whether some of the reports about arsenic in brown rice are complete.
Sep. 1, 2012 1:04 am
Hi Rita, I have found that letting the dough warm at room temperature for at least 2 hours works best. Keep in mind that I generally triple recipes to make 2 large 5" x 9" loaves. I have tried a 4 hour warming period, and the bread over fermented. So I didn't get a very good oven spring. If you make one loaf at a time or a smaller loaf, the warming time would be less. After you remove the dough from the refrigerator and it warms, it will raise more. Wait until it raises 1/2 what it was. You should see bubbles starting to form. I have posted a couple of my favorite long ferment bread recipes that are tweaked variations of recipes I found. I tend to use some of the natural dough enhancers, especially for whole grain breads. Some of the ingredients aren't always stocked by everyone, and the recipes work equally well without some of the ingredients. If you have questions on any of the recipes, let me know. As for the yeast, you need much less when you do a long fermentation. When using a recipe with 9 cups of flour, I use only 1 teaspoon of yeast. If I did a shorter fermentation, I could probably use less. If you use too much yeast, it will use all of the sugars in the flour, produce too much gas, and literally kill itself. In my next post, I plan to talk about what happens when you make dough and how all of the ingredients work together. Having an understanding of the process really helps when you want to modify recipes because you can better predict the effects of changes, and can figure out when thing go wrong.
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About Me
I breed large parrots, like to write, raise most of our veggies, completed my AS degree at 65, enjoy cooking specialty dishes and baking bread. I have done extensive study of cooking and eating healthy. A few years ago, I started researching healthy eating for my parrots, and it has since changed focus to the diet of my family. At this point, I make all of our bread using fresh milled flour that I make. We eat primarily pastures fed meats and eggs, and I make many of our condiments. We also avoid GMO foods and ingredients as much as possible. Since my 93 year old mother has moved in with us, we have eliminated the 10 medications she was on, and her physical and mental condition has improved considerably. I totally believe that we are what we eat. What is really best for us is a constant learning experience.
My favorite things to cook
I get bored with cooking daily meals, but enjoy making specialty and new dishes. I also enjoy baking breads from scratch using freshly ground flour made from various grains that I buy in bulk.
My cooking triumphs
One of my cooking triumphs was baking whole grain breads that are light, tasty, and healthy.
My cooking tragedies
My latest cooking tragedy was recovered with some effort. I made the Navy Bean and Ham soup that I posted and after the cooking time, much of the liquid had evaporated. I was tired when it finished and put it into containers and froze it as it was. The next day we had it for dinner and it was way too thick. As much as I didn't feel like it, I thawed 8 containers of the soup, added more broth, and repackaged it for freezing. It was really a pain, but I'm glad I did it. The finished soup was so much better.
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