The Bran, The Germ, The Endosperm

Say that ten times fast! These three properties of the whole grain are essential as a trio, and without the whole seed intact, many nutrients are lost and the bread becomes less healthy.  I know we have all heard of these terms, but many of us are wondering what they really are, and how they act separately and together as a unit.  So let’s break them down…

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THE BRAN: The “Roughage” — makes up about 14% of the whole grain. It is the outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains large amounts of B vitamins, some protein, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and dietary fiber.  This fiber is insoluble, which makes it easier to digest, and helps to prevent constipation by speeding up the digestion process.

THE GERM: The “Nutrients” — makes up only about 2.5% of the kernel weight of the whole grain.  It is the sprouting section of the seed.  It is usually separated during the milling process because it contains the most fat, and therefore has a shorter shelf life.  It also contains a higher protein content, more B-vitamins, such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and iron.  You can also purchase wheat germ separately if you want to add it into your normal flour.  Keep in mind that whole wheat flours already have it in tact, but many other flours do not.

THE ENDOSPERM: The “Energy” — makes up 83% of the whole grain. It is the main source for white flour. It contains the greatest amount of carbohydrates, protein, and iron.  It also contains some of the other B-vitamins as well.  It is a source of soluble fiber, and is therefore more difficult/takes longer to digest, but also makes you feel full faster and can help maintain blood sugar and weight.

Whole grain flour contains all three of these vital parts of the kernal.  In the milling process, usually the bran and germ are removed and only the endosperm remains, depriving our flours of essential vitamins, protein, fiber, and trace minerals.  I know companies add back some of these nutrients after they mill, but keep in mind that this method is artificial and you are not truly eating a “whole food,” or a “whole grain.” Eating foods as you see them in their most natural form is essential to life, vitality, and to your health.

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So the next time you are on a hunt to purchase some flour, please take a moment to study the brand that you purchase.  Does it have the highest nutrition content for you and your family? Is it truly a whole grain flour? Don’t let the language on the bags fool you! Companies verbage on the front, sides, and back are not regulated by the FDA. But the nutrition panel is monitored.  Study it. Or you could pull a Foodbabe (www.foodbabe.com) and pick up that phone and call the company yourself to get the most honest answer. She is so inspiring!

Let’s regain our power when it comes to our food. Educating ourselves is the first step! And then those cookies or pie or bread (mmmmm) you make from that flour will have that much more history to it; that much more knowledge, because you have empowered yourself to eat healthier! Go get ’em!

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