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Grains, Whole and Refined

  • By: Joanne Slavin & Lauren Williams
  • In: Encyclopedia of Lifestyle Medicine & Health
  • Edited by: James M. Rippe
  • Subject:Health Psychology / Behavioral Medicine, Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology

Whole grains became part of the human diet with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. For the past 3000 to 4000 years, a majority of the world's population has relied on whole grains as a main portion of the diet. In North America, wheat, oats, barley, and rye were harvested as staple foods as early as the American Revolution. It is only within the past 100 years that a majority of the population has consumed refined-grain products. Prior to this time, gristmills were used for grinding grains. They did not completely separate the bran and germ from the white endosperm and produced limited amounts of purified flour. In 1873, the roller mill was introduced, and it more efficiently separated the bran and ...

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