Americans love white flour, and because its stripped of its nutrients, it has long been "enriched" by adding back four B vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, iron and niacin. But a new study from China has linked at least one of these nutrients - niacin - to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and obesity.
The scientists explain that chronic niacin overload stimulates appetite, and they say that obesity among US children and adolescents has increased in parallel with per capita niacin consumption. In other worlds, when kids overeat foods made with enriched white flour, like sugary cereal, mac and cheese and baked goods, calories may not be the only culprit.
So why did we start refining flour to begin with? Food historians trace it way back to the Middle Ages. Whole grain flour doesn't have a long shelf life, so it was susceptible to molds and fungus, which were making people sick. Refining it made it safer at that time. Today refined white flour is considered a nutritional villain and this study adds a little fuel to that fire.
While this study was small and the conclusions will likely we debated one thing is certain - when it comes to grains both quantity and quality are key. Most adults need about 5-6 servings a day, maybe 2 at breakfast, 2 at lunch, 1 at dinner and perhaps one more as a snack, and whenever possible they should be whole grains that are naturally nutrient rich rather than refined versions with vitamins added back.
One serving of whole grains is:
1 slice whole grain bread
One half cup cooked oats
One half cup cooked whole grains (brown or wild rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, millet, etc.)
3 cups popped popcorn
So 6 servings a day could look something like this (along with other foods):
1 cup cooked oats at breakfast
2 sliced whole grain bread at lunch
One half cup cooked quinoa at dinner
3 cups popped popcorn at snack time
According to the USDA, fewer than 10% of Americans eat the minimum recommended 3 servings of whole grains per day. How are you doing in the whole grain department? Are you addicted to white bread or are you hooked on whole grains? Do you have a hard time not overdoing it when it comes to portion sizes? Please share your thoughts!