Benefits of Whole Grains
The benefits of whole grains are essential to any healthy diet, yet according to WebMD most people eat less than one serving of whole grains a day. As consumers, it can be confusing when we stare at words like “whole grain,” “whole wheat,” and “multigrain.” What’s the difference, and how do we know we are getting what we really need?
In the next few moments we’re going to clear these up but first things first. When a food has all the benefits of whole grains, it means the entire kernel of the grain was used to make that product. The bran, the endosperm, the germ, and everything in between were included; this is important because many nutrients including fiber and vitamins are found in the bran and the germ. When a product is not whole grain, it means that the bran and the germ are removed during the refining process. This refinement strips away nearly half of the nutrients.
Here are some differences between whole grains and refined grains:
- Lower in fat and still contain important nutrients such as fiber, iron and vitamin B
- Digested slower than refined grains, which helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable
- Help manage a healthy weight
- Lower the risk of asthma, inflammatory disease, high blood pressure and heart disease
- Contain only half of their original nutrients due to the refinement process
- Linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, which is a pre-diabetic symptom
- Linked to weight gain and obesity
- Linked to heart disease because they contribute to plaque in the arteries
Start incorporating whole grains into your life
Now that we understand the difference between refined grains and whole grains, here are some tips on what to look for when reading food labels, as well as some foods to start incorporating into your lifestyle that give you the full benefits of whole grains:
- When shopping, read the ingredients label. Look for the words “whole grains” and stay away from words and phrases like “multigrain” or “whole wheat.”
- Stay away from words that say “enriched flour” or “enriched wheat flour.” These will be refined grains that have been enriched with nutrients because many nutrients were lost in the refining process. You want – and deserve – real nutrients, not enriched ones!
- Look at the fiber content on the nutrition label and make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Great foods that have the full benefits of whole grains include Quinoa, Brown Rice, Oats, and 100% Whole Wheat Flour for baking and cooking. My personal favourite is Steel Oats from Woolies.
Research taken from Dr Sears L.E.A.N Blog.