Whole grains are grains that have the bran, germ, and endosperm intact. When the bran and germ are removed, the grain is stripped of its nutritional value and all you have is nutritionally devoid starchy white refined grain. Whole grains are intact, and it takes your body longer to digest them. That’s good because you’ll feel fuller for a long time and you can avoid blood sugar spikes. All grains do start off as whole grains (obviously), but if the germ or bran are removed, protein and other key nutrients are reduced. Ensure you’re eating whole grains instead of grains in the form of bread or pasta.
When a grain is processed, it becomes a “fast-acting carbohydrate in the body.” And we all know that those fast-acting carbs can lead to blood sugar problems and weight gain if we consume lots of them. Whole grains have a lot of health benefits. When you eat them, you get fiber, a healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and a variety of phytochemicals that will improve your health. So read on to find out why you should eat them.
WHOLE GRAINS CONTAIN A LOT OF FIBER
Fiber is one big reason to eat whole grains. Adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, and whole grains contain two type; soluble and insoluble fiber which are both beneficial to your health. Because it digests slowly. Fiber also helps you feel fuller longer. Also, it can help control blood sugar, lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and reduce colon cancer risk. Though not all whole grains are high in fiber you should focus on oats,and barley.
WHOLE GRAINS HELP DIGESTION
The fiber contained in whole grains keeps bowel movements regular (studies have shown that people who eat more fiber need fewer laxatives). And they help ward off diverticulosis, the condition in which little pouches form in the colon wall, causing inflammation, constipation, diarrhea, and pain. Fiber is responsible for much of the benefits, but whole grains also contain lactic acid, which promotes “good bacteria” in the large intestine. These organisms aid digestion, promote better nutrition, absorption, and may even beef up the body’s immune system.
WHOLE GRAINS LOWER CHOLESTEROL
Whole grains do not only help prevent your body from absorbing “bad” cholesterol, they may also lower triglycerides, both of which are major contributors to heart disease. Any form of whole grain including whole wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, corn, quinoa, rye, buckwheat, and millet will confer benefits for heart health.
WHOLE GRAINS LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
The heart benefits of whole grains don’t stop with cholesterol and triglycerides. They also lower blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease. One study found a 19% lower risk of hypertension among men who ate more than 7 servings of whole grain breakfast cereal a week compared with those who ate one or less. A study of women also found a benefit. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains substantially lowers blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and insulin level. Any of these changes would be expected to reduce the risk of heart disease.
WHOLE GRAINS CONTROL WEIGHT
People who eat a lot of whole grains are more likely to keep their weight in check and less likely to gain weight over time than those who eat refined grains.
WHOLE GRAINS REDISTRIBUTE FAT
Even if eating whole grains doesn’t actually make you lose weight, studies have shown that it can help you cut down on the amount of body fat you have and lead to a healthier distribution of that fat. Specifically, eating whole grains can leave you with less belly fat—what scientists kindly call “central adiposity”—which increases your risk of diabetes and other health woes.
WHOLE GRAINS MAKE YOU FEEL FULL
One way whole grains may help you control your weight is by making you feel fuller than refined grains such as cookies or white bread. “Whole grains take longer to digest and have a more satiating effect. This could also help keep your portions under control.
WHOLE GRAINS REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR
One of the main benefits of whole grains is that compared to refined grains, they help keep your blood glucose from spiking, which can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, among other things. Eating whole grains has been proven to have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes, so they are a smart choice for people with pre-diabetes or high risk of diabetes.
WHOLE GRAINS ARE GOOD SOURCE OF B VITAMINS
Whole grains are rich in the B vitamins; thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, all of which are involved with metabolism. Another B vitamin, folate (folic acid), helps the body form red blood cells and is critical for preventing birth defects in babies. Whole grains can help, but women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant need to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
WHOLE GRAINS DELIVER ESSENTIAL MINERALS
Along with vitamins, whole grains are a great source of the minerals our bodies need to stay healthy. These include iron, which transports oxygen throughout the body and helps prevent anemia; magnesium, which builds bones; and selenium that protects against oxidation. They also contain zinc, necessary to keep your immune system in fighting shape.
WHOLE GRAINS MAY REDUCE ASTHMA RISK
Eating whole grains early in life may ward off asthma and other allergic conditions. One study found that children who were introduced to oats as infants were less likely to have asthma or allergic rhinitis by the time they turned five. An overall healthy diet with more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, less meat, and refined foods may reduce asthmatic wheezing.
WHOLE GRAINS CUT MARKERS OF INFLAMMATION
Asthma is one inflammatory condition that may be eased by consuming whole grains, but there could be others as well. One study found that whole grain barley, brown rice, or a combination of the two reduced markers of inflammation in the gut. Whole grains may also cut levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that has been linked not only with heart disease and type 2 diabetes but also problems in pregnancy such as premature birth, preeclampsia, and fertility problems.
WHOLE GRAINS LOWER CANCER RISK
The evidence is emerging that whole grain consumption may lower the risks of certain cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Although the evidence is mixed at this point, what will definitely lower your risk of cancer is eating a diet that includes not only whole grains but lots of fruits and vegetables and not a lot of meat or processed foods.
WHOLE GRAINS CONTAIN RESISTANT STARCH
Some whole grains contain resistant starch, a carb that acts more like a fiber. Because it’s not easily digested, it moves slowly through your digestive system burning fat, stoking the hormones that make you feel full, maintaining your insulin in good working order and keeping blood sugar and cholesterol levels down. Oatmeal, pearl, barley and brown rice are all good whole grain sources of Resistant Starch. It can also be found in green bananas and other non-grain foods.