Healthy Whole Grains? They Don’t Exist…

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Healthy whole grains? You’re not going to like what I have to say but here goes…

They don’t exist.

I know, I know. It sounds crazy. Years ago when I was in school becoming a Registered Dietitian and working towards my Master’s in Nutrition, I was taught that healthy, whole grains have so much more nutritional value and are a far better option than refined grains. It was this understanding that led so many of us to switch from white rice to brown, white bread to whole wheat, pasta to whole grain pasta, etc. Stores became filled with whole grain varieties of our white flour, nutrient stripped versions and over time, we made them staples in our diets. 

Well, studies have shown and what we’re learning now is that while a “healthier” variety of grain is marginally better, the problem that exists with grains applies to the white, nutrient void versions as well as the “healthy whole grain” versions we’ve come to know and love.


Even your “healthy whole grains” are going to cause inflammation, promote weight gain, and spike your insulin and blood glucose levels. They are going to promote fat storage, create energy highs and lows, create insulin resistance, impact your mood, throw off your hormone balance and so much more.

They also contain anti-nutrients. Just as certain animals have their own distinct way of protecting themselves (a porcupine and its needles, a snake and its venom, a bear and its claws, a skunk and its spray), anti-nutrients are the grain’s way of protecting itself against the sun, insects, bacteria and anything else that may harm it. These substances like phytic acid (or phytate), lectins and gluten, while protecting the grain against invasion, are wreaking havoc within us. They bind to important minerals which can lead to mineral deficiencies, affect your ability to effectively digest protein, and can contribute to skin and digestive issues, to name a few. (1)

Let’s take blood sugar, for example. We want to avoid spikes in blood sugar and keep our cells readily able to accept the glucose they need to perform their functions. When our cells become resistant to accepting the glucose they need, we’ve set the stage for illness and disease.

In order to avoid spiking our insulin, many of us look to the glycemic index charts to determine how much of a spike in blood sugar a certain food provides. But first…

What is the glycemic index?

“The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers. The higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a small rise, while a high GI food will trigger a dramatic spike.” Take a look at these carbohydrates with their glycemic values shown below. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 inclusive is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low. (2)

According to the GI charts, here’s the difference between white bread and whole wheat bread:

White wheat bread                                         75±2
Whole wheat/whole meal bread                74±2

Here’s the difference between white and brown rice:

White rice, boiled                                            73±4
Brown rice, boiled                                           68±4

So while the whole wheat or brown rice versions are marginally better, they’re still considered a high or borderline high GI option. What’s even crazier is that whole wheat bread (that you’ve been told is so healthy) causes a bigger spike in blood sugar than a spoonful of sugar, which has a glycemic index of 65!

As if that weren’t bad enough…

We know that processed foods with chemicals and additives are obviously harmful to us and may feel great thinking that whole wheat bread is a healthier and less processed option. Well, even with its added fiber, whole wheat bread is still a processed food. It still has to go through steps (like adding chemicals and additives to certain brands) to give it the texture, consistency, shelf life and taste we want and expect.

So what can you do?

While we need to take a look at the amount of sugar we are taking in from the obvious sources (sweetened drinks, sodas, sweets and treats, etc.). it’s important to look at the not-as-obvious versions too (breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits high in fructose, etc.). Taking it one step further, it’s now time to realize that our “healthy whole grains” are just as toxic to our body.

Not convinced? Try this. Eliminate them for 30 days and see how much better you look, feel and perform. If that sounds hard, I’m here to help. Week 1 of  my program is where we kick sugar to the curb and get you started on the road to a lean, sleek, healthy, energized and happy you!

Have you reduced or eliminated grains and how has it impacted your health? I’d love to know, comment and share!

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January 2023