All Things Grains

Published on: 07/12/2022

Whole Grains, Enriched Grains, Sprouted Grains! What grains are safe for kidney disease?

Grains are an important part of the diet. They provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. But it can be confusing to know which grains to choose, especially if you have CKD, diabetes or both! Today we are going to demystify all things grain and talk about uses for each. Whole grains and CKD can be a good pair!

Refined Grains

Refined grains are grains that have had the bran and germ removed. These grains only have the endosperm. They may also be called white grains. The removal of the bran, which is a great source of fiber, means that refined grains may have a bigger impact on blood sugar levels.

Refined grains can be enriched. Enriched means that the vitamins and mineral removed when the bran and germ are removed are added back. Wheat is a common grain to be enriched. In the store, you may see enriched wheat flour. Other grains, like rice, may not be enriched.


Whole Grains

Whole grains are simply that, the entire grain. They may be crushed or rolled, in the case of oatmeal, but not part of the grain has been removed. The bran, germ and endosperm are still present. Whole grains are packed with B Vitamins, healthy fats, starch and minerals.

Whole grains are great for those with diabetes because of the fiber. The fiber in whole grains helps prevent blood sugar spikes that come with simple sugars. Fiber is also a key part of keeping bowel movements normal!

Whole grains previously got a bad reputation from the kidney disease community because of the phosphorus and potassium. The bran in whole grains can be higher in phosphorus and/or potassium than enriched grains. Newer research has shown that the phosphorus is less usable by the body than phosphorus from other sources like animal proteins or added phosphorus. Some whole grains are lower in potassium than others. Oats, brown rice, popcorn, quinoa and barley are all lower in potassium than other whole grains! Whole grains and CKD can be a great match. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend having half of the daily grains be whole grains. 


Sprouted Grains

Sprouted grains are whole grains that have started to sprout, similar to how they would if planted in the ground. They are then ground and baked into various products like crackers or breads. Baked products with sprouted grains, like bread, should be refrigerated to limit bacterial growth. Raw sprouts are not recommended due to food safety concerns, especially for those that have undergone transplant.

Nutritionally, sprouted grains will be similar to whole grains with a few exceptions. The process of sprouting the grain breaks down the phytate making the phosphorus in these grains more available for the body to use than in whole grains. Sprouted grains do have less starch than whole grains and can be easier to digest: making them a better choice for those that have difficulties digesting whole grains.

Still have questions?

We are here to help you understand how your foods and lifestyle impact your health! We offer group classes and individual nutrition counseling to help you feel empowered about your choices!






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