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Taking It All With A Grain Of…Grain

This is a followup to Tuesday’s post about the invitation I received to interview Dr. Stork about the importance of hearthealthywholegrains in our diet, especially as an “easy fix” for weight loss, all courtesy of General Mills.  The overwhelming consensus in the comments section is that, while it would have been extremely entertaining if I’d accepted, I most likely would not have been allowed to ask my questions.  Frankly, I agree.

So we’ll talk about them here.  Or rather, we’ll talk about the fact that grains, even “whole” grains, ain’t all they’re, um, cracked up to be.

Recently, the marvelously foul-mouthed intelligent and entertaining Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal dismantled the eyerolling OpEd piece by Melody Cherny in Food Safety News titled Don’t Eat Like A Caveman.  In his post, he makes use of some graphical charts to illustrate the commonly held disbelief that whole grains are nutritionally superior to other foods in terms of B vitamins, minerals and fiber.  I’d asked for, and received permission from Richard, to use these charts, but decided instead to take it just a little bit further.

I’ve claimed here previously that there isn’t anything, be it nutrient or fiber, found in grains that can’t be found in greater quantities in other, more nutrient-dense, foods.  So, let’s start with fiber, shall we?  We’ll ignore for the time-being that the phytates found in grains, particularly whole grains, bind to their nutrients and prevent your body from absorbing them; we’ll also ignore that the government-issued Recommended Daily Allowances are only high enough to prevent diseases of malnutrition, such as rickets and scurvy, and are woefully short in terms of optimal nutrition.

A serving of whole wheat bread is about 1 ounce, or one slice, and contains 70 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber.  It contains 2% of the RDA of vitamin E, 4% vitamin B6, 2% calcium, 4% folate, 9% copper, 5% iron, 8% magnesium, 37% manganese, 8% niacin, 3% pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), 9% phosphorus, 5% riboflavin, 19% selenium, 9% thiamin, and 7% zinc.*

In comparison, a serving of raspberries is roughly 2 ounces, or 1/2 cup, and contains 30 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fiber.  As for the micronutrients, that half-cup of raspberries contains 1% of the RDA of vitamin A, 3% vitamin B6, 21% vitamin C, 2% vitamin E, 1% calcium, 4% folate, 5% copper, 2% iron, 3% magnesium, 35% manganese, 4% niacin, 3% pantothenic acid, 1% phosphorus, 5% riboflavin, 1% selenium, 2% thiamin, and 4% zinc.

The RDA content of micronutrients for both of these foods, per serving, are very similar, but look at the macronutrient content – you can eat 2 servings of raspberries, an entire cup, and double your micronutrient intake as well as your fiber intake (8 grams), while consuming roughly the same amount of carbohydrates and fewer calories than that one slice of bread.

But those whole grains are an “easy fix” for better weight loss – so says Dr. Stork.

In her silly opinion piece, Ms. Cherny states, “…I do not agree that people should exclude whole grains…from their diet. Nor do I agree that people will become healthier by consuming large amounts of meats, seafood and eggs.”  Fine, then we won’t deal with “large amounts” – we’ll talk about reasonable amounts.

It’s generally accepted that a serving of meat is 4 ounces.  So, let’s start with salmon, since it contains a healthy portion of what many Americans lack in their diet – omega 3 fatty acids.  Which, of course, there are none in those supposedly “heart healthy” whole grains.  Four ounces of salmon has 164 calories, 7 grams of fat (2 of which are the all-important omega 3s), 0 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, and 24 grams of protein.  As for micronutrients, that same 4 ounces contains 5% of the RDA of vitamin A, 47% B6, 195% of B12, 1% of vitamin C, 5% vitamin E, 4% calcium, 3% folate, 6% copper, 3% iron, 11% magnesium, 1% manganese, 58% niacin, 18% pantothenic acid, 42% phosphorus, 14% riboflavin, 74% selenium, 12% thiamine and 6% zinc.

Now let’s see what happens if you eat 4 ounces of what my friend Mr. Nikoley refers to as “nature’s multivitamin” – liver.  (Don’t go “blech” at me; properly cooked it is delicious, something both Beloved and – more importantly – The Young One will attest to.)  Four ounces of beef liver has 162 calories, 4 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber and 23 grams of protein.  It contains 1,708% of the RDA of vitamin A, 82% vitamin B6, 3,260% vitamin B12, 33% vitamin C, 9% vitamin D, 5% vitamin E, 1% calcium, 70% folate, 420% copper, 43% iron, 7% magnesium, 17% manganese, 103% niacin, 172% pantothenic acid, 51% phosphorus, 286% riboflavin, 85% selenium, 27% thiamine and 55% zinc.

Can we say, “Wow”?

Wow.

For those of you who prefer a visual representation, here’s a chart, showing the nutritional data for 4 ounces each of whole wheat bread, raspberries, salmon and beef liver:

4 ounces
Whole Wheat Bread Raspberries Salmon Beef Liver
Calories

279

56

167

162

Fat

5

0

7

4

Carbs

52

13

0

7

Fiber

8

8

0

0

Protein

11

1

24

23

RDA of Vitamins & Minerals
A

0%

1%

5%

1708%

B6

16%

5%

47%

82%

B12

0%

0%

195%

3260%

C

0%

38%

1%

33%

D

0%

0%

0%

9%

E

6%

3%

5%

5%

Calcium

8%

2%

4%

1%

Folate

14%

7%

3%

70%

Copper

0%

9%

6%

420%

Iron

21%

4%

3%

43%

Magnesium

30%

6%

11%

7%

Manganese

146%

64%

1%

17%

Niacin

31%

7%

58%

103%

Pantothenic Acid

13%

5%

18%

172%

Phosphorus

37%

2%

42%

51%

Potassium

286mg

172mg

474mg

365mg

Riboflavin

21%

9%

14%

286%

Selenium

75%

1%

74%

85%

Thiamin

36%

3%

12%

27%

Zinc

27%

7%

6%

55%

Look at that – the only nutrients the whole wheat bread are appreciably higher in is magnesium and manganese, and you can fix that by adding an ounce of almonds to your meal of raspberries and liver.  Plus, the four ounces of bread – just four slices! – is more calorically dense, with far more carbohydrates, than 4 ounces of any of the other foods listed.

But adding more whole grains to your diet is an “easy fix” for better weight loss.

Uh-huh.

Bite me, Dr. Stork.

* All nutritional information comes from the FitDay database.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

 





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