Grains are packed with fiber and help to fill us up for a longer period. It supports the health of the digestive system. Grains are available in two forms, whole and refined. Whole grains contain more nutrients and helps balances blood sugar levels so that we don’t get insulin spikes which will lead to food cravings. Whole grains generally help to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While refined grains are heavily milled and processed whole grains, which lack all the nutrients and benefits which whole grains provides. Some examples of refined grains are white flour, white rice and cornmeal. There are a few perfect whole grains for smoothies which will increase its nutritional content and creates fullness. These whole grains are delicious and are easy to add to smoothies. It is always a good idea to soak whole grains in water for a few minutes to hours, before consumption or adding them to your smoothies. This will help the whole digestive system process. So let’s take a look at what whole grains to use in smoothies.
Barley is a cereal grain which is high in fiber and protein and is very low in fat. Both fiber and protein helps to keep us fuller for a longer time. Barley is a great source of soluble fiber, which when mixed with water expands. Barley is a very tasty whole grain. It has a nutty flavor and has a very chewy texture. Barley can be prepared in many ways and are used in many recipes. The most common meals in which you will find barley is cereal, crackers, bread and juices. The nutrition of barley is located in its leaves. Barley is available for purchase in both forms, whole and refined. Whole grain barley is barley in its natural form and is at times referred to as hulled barley. Hulled barley is not processed and has high levels of nutrients. While refined barley is processed barley. Refined barley is commonly referred to as pearl barley and is less nutritious than hulled barley but is still nutritious. Refined barley is actually healthier than any other refined whole grains.
Barley has significant amounts of manganese, copper, selenium, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium and chromium which are all essential for various body functions. Barley has many benefits. Barley helps to control blood pressure, improves digestion, protects against asthma, reduces constipation, keeps blood sugar level stable, lowers cholesterol, supports weight loss, helps with regular bowel movement and provides the body with antioxidants which fights cancer. One ounce of hulled barley is about 101 calories, with 20.8 grams of carbohydrates, 3.4 grams of protein and 0.5 gram of fat. While one ounce of pearled barley is approximately 100 calories, with 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2.8 grams of protein and 0.3 gram of fat.
Just like barley, oats are high in fiber and protein and is low in fat. Whole oats are chewy and have a nutty taste. Oats take a long time to digest because of its high fiber content. Oats absorb water easily as it is very high in soluble fiber when compared to many other whole grains. Because of its soluble fiber content, it will help to keep you fuller for a longer time. There are many ways to prepare and add oats to your diet. Some ways of consuming oats are not always the healthiest, for example, sugar packed oatmeal cookies. There are other ways to consume oats which are better for you, for example, in healthy smoothies. While shopping for oats you may come across three kinds of oats. Steel cut, rolled and instant oats. Steel cut oats are natural raw oats which has not been processed. This type of oats generally takes a longer time to cook. The second kind of oats is rolled oats, which is often times referred to as old fashioned oats. This kind of oats is processed, and cooks at a faster rate than steel cuts oats. The final kind of oats is instant oats, which is also referred to as quick oats. This kind of oats is the most processed of all three. They cook more quickly than the other kinds of oats and have a less nutritional value.
Oats have good amounts of thiamine, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium and iron. Oats help to curb appetite, lower cholesterol, increase immunity, support digestion, help with weight loss, relieve constipation and reduce high blood pressure. A container with ¼ cup of steel cut oats has approximately 150 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fat. A container with ½ cup of rolled oats is about 150 calories with 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fat. While one cup of instant oats is about 158 calories with 27 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein and 3.2 grams of fat.
Wheat germs come from wheat berry which is a whole wheat kernel. Wheat germs is the reproduction part of wheat kernel which germinates and then grows into a new plant. The wheat germs have the majority of nutrients found in wheat kernel. Wheat germs is always removed before the making of white flour. This whole grain is rich in protein, fiber and has great antioxidant properties. Fresh wheat germs has a sweet nutty taste. If wheat germs taste bitter or rancid, then it has gone bad. Wheat germs can either be eaten as is or used in a variety or recipes including smoothies. You may find whole wheat germs or toasted wheat germs in grocery stores. Whole wheat germs, are wheat germs in its fresh, raw, natural state while toasted wheat germs are processed and tends to have less nutritional value than whole wheat germs.
Wheat germs are rich in vitamin E, B complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. Wheat germs help to boost immune system health, protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer, balance blood sugar levels, promote regularity and support heart health. One ounce of wheat germs is approximately 105 calories, with 14 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat.
You can increase the nutritional content of your smoothies by adding whole grains. You can easily add any of the mentioned whole grains to your smoothies to help with your weight loss efforts and control cravings. Remember that whole grains contain blood sugar regulating fiber, which help to control appetite. When shopping for grains, choose to purchase whole grains and not refined grains. Mainly if you are trying to lose weight or trying to control your appetite. Whole grains will take a longer to break down in the stomach and you will feel fuller for a longer time. Read all the labels on the packages of the grain/s you choose to purchase and ensure that it says whole grain.
What grains do you use in your smoothies? Let me know in the comment field below. You may also share your thoughts or ask any questions.