Monday, September 23, 2013

Whole Grains: Pitimi, Rice, Diri

September is Whole Grains Month. 

Breakfast: Sorghum (pitimi in creole) with avocado and vegetables

My latest nutrition article with Chef Lemaire is on WHOLE GRAINS.
For the full article click here:

For my followers who need a little more technical comparison with nutrition values for rice, bulgur, and sorghum, please see below! I hope that many feeding centers in Haiti will be able to learn from this and make the switch to more nutrient dense, local foods.

Comparing nutritional values:
Below is the nutritional value of sorghum versus white, long-grain, enriched rice (the kind most commonly imported into Haiti).  The nutritional data is calculated for 100 grams of the grains dried, which is approximately ½ cup uncooked.

The nutritional label shows that sorghum is lower in total calories and carbohydrates, but higher in protein, fat, and fiber. Magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese (which are all minerals), and vitamin A and Vitamin E are all significantly higher in the sorghum than the white rice. Don’t forget that the nutrients in the sorghum are all naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. The white rice is enriched with nutrients like: iron, niacin and folate.  

Below, the nutritional values for bulgur and white enriched, long-grain rice can be compared.

The nutritional values show that per 100 grams of dried grains, the bulgur is lower in calories and carbohydrates, but higher in protein, fat, and fiber than the white rice. Bulgur is an exceptional source of fiber. For one serving of bulgur (1/4 cup dry, which is half of the value displayed), there is about 9 grams of fiber. A “good source” of fiber generally has 3-4 grams of fiber per serving. In addition to the fiber, the bulgur also has more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, niacin, and vitamin A than the white rice.

Putting the WHOLE back in whole grains:

As we have seen above, the whole grains (bulgur and sorghum) provide more essential nutrients per 100 grams than the white, enriched rice. Now imagine what the nutritional difference might look like if the refined grains weren’t enriched; the nutritional differences would be even more significant. It is essential that people, whenever possible, choose to consume WHOLE, unrefined grain products to maximize nutritional intakes that contribute to optimal health and disease prevention. When individuals continue to consume refined carbohydrates, it can lead to unwarranted health consequences such as increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Eating a variety of different whole grains can help provide a balance of nutrients over the course of a week. If you only eat white rice, white spaghetti, and white flour (like many of the dietary trends I had observed amongst individuals in Haiti), then your dietary intake may be significantly lacking in essential nutrients that promote good health. Choosing to eat enriched grains rather than the whole grains itself may also diminish the WHOLE effect that is created from eating the grain at its most natural state.

 Try switching up your weekly menu to incorporate more whole grains. It’s simple! These are a few things we did at the feeding center I worked at in Haiti. Instead of serving corn flakes or white spaghetti for breakfast, we served oatmeal, bulgur, or a soup made with sorghum. Instead of eating white rice for lunch everyday, we would use bulgur or sorghum in its place. The children were only allowed rice twice a week, and whenever possible we would purchase Haitian rice. In addition to using whole grains, we would also use a variety of starchy vegetables and beans to add variety to the weekly menu’s carbohydrate sources.

In addition to making these changes, you could also replace white flour in breads or baked goods with whole-wheat flour. Alternative flours made from whole grains such as oats, bulgur, or sorghum can be used as a substitute in baking. Making these flours at home are simple too. If you have a blender, just put the grains in a blender and grind until a fine consistency.

Making these simple changes is a one more step towards creating a healthier version of you!

* Nutritional Values were obtained from: 1. Self Nutrition Data 2. Sorghum Checkoff