Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Whole grains are not only delicious and nutritious, they contribute to keeping us healthy and protected from chronic health problems.
What Is The Definition of Whole Grains?
Kernels that contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed are considered whole. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked, the end product should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain.
The three nutritious layers of the grain are the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. In refined white flour, only the endosperm is used. The different parts of a kernel of grain provide the following nutrients:
Bran - The coarse outer layer of a kernel provides:
Endosperm - The starchy center contains:
Germ - The smallest part of the grain is rich in the following nutrients:
Don't be deceived by the word enriched. What that lofty term actually means is that when grains are refined, approximately 22 natural nutrients are lost when the bran and germ are removed. The resulting white flour is then 'enriched' with 5 or 6 synthetic nutrients. The term enriched wheat flour should truthfully be called denatured low-nutrient flour.
Benefits of Eating Whole Grains
Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain - the bran, endosperm, and germ. In addition to tasting delicious, whole grains provide a wide range of nutrients that are missing in refined flour products. The higher the percentage of whole grains in a food, the more health benefits it provides.
Wholesome grains contain protective antioxidants in quantities close to or exceeding those in fruits and vegetables.
Higher consumption of complete grains is associated with lower BMI (Body Mass Index) and a reduced risk of overweight and obesity.
Research indicates that the antioxidants contained in whole grains act with the fiber to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Consumption of whole cereal grains is associated with slower buildup of artery-narrowing plaque.
Whole grains appear to play an important role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating two servings or more daily may cut the risk of pancreatic cancer.
People who eat three or more servings daily, especially from high-fiber cereals, are less likely to develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, precursors of Type 2 diabetes.
Fiber assists with bowel regularity by helping to move waste through the intestines and by supporting the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria. Whole grains are beneficial for preventing constipation and also help prevent diverticulosis, which are herniations in the muscular wall of the colon.
How To Make Sure A Product Is Whole Grain
You must read labels carefully - a true whole-grain product will list whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, or some other whole grain as the main ingredient. Watch this video to learn more about identifying whole grain bread and other foods. You'll be amazed how manufacturers deceive and mislead you
When possible, choose whole multigrain products to get the benefits of a blend of nutrients. Choosing organic ingredients will further boost the nutrient value. Avoid foods that contain 'wheat flour' or 'enriched flour' as that's just a sneaky way to describe white flour.
Chew well to savor the rich, complex flavors of whole grains. Once you get used to eating these grains, products with refined grains will taste bland and wimpy.
List of Whole Grains
Wheat and corn are the most common types of grains eaten worldwide, but there are many other grains that are tasty and full of nutrients. Try some of these other examples of grains in their whole form:
Which Are Gluten-Free Grains?
There are millions of people who can't tolerate grains with gluten. Many people have an allergy to wheat, and millions more have a condition known as celiac disease - an autoimmune form of gluten intolerance. A gluten-free diet is also sometimes part of the treatment for autistic children.
Gluten-free grains include the following:
Even though oats are inherently gluten-free, they are frequently contaminated with wheat during processing. There are some companies, including Bob's Red Mill, that offer pure uncontaminated gluten-free oats.
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