Health Benefits of Eating Whole Grains
For thousands of years, whole grains have been a staple of human diets
However, proponents of some contemporary diets, like the paleo diet, assert that consuming wheat is unhealthy.
While consuming a lot of processed grains has been related to diseases like obesity and inflammation, whole grains have a different health impact.
In actuality, consuming whole grains is linked to a number of advantages, such as a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
The top 9 health advantages of consuming whole grains are listed below.
What are whole grains?
Grains are the seeds of grass-like plants called cereals. Some of the most common varieties are corn, rice, and wheat.
Some seeds of non-grass plants, called pseudocereals, like buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth, are also whole grains.
Whole-grain kernels have three parts
- Bran. This is the hard, outer
shell. It contains fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Endosperm. The middle layer of the
grain is mostly made up of carbs.
- Germ. This
inner layer has vitamins, minerals, protein, and plant compounds.
You can roll, crush, or shatter grains. As long as all three components are present in the proper proportions, they are still regarded as whole grains.
Only the endosperm remains in refined grains after the bran and germ have been removed.
Although some vitamins and minerals have been put back to enriched refined grains, they are still not as wholesome or nutrient-dense as the whole grains.
Common varieties of whole grains include:
- brown rice
- whole rye
- wild rice
- wheat berry
Whole grain products are those made from these ingredients. These consist of certain varieties of bread, spaghetti, and cereal for breakfast.
To ensure that processed whole-grain goods are totally made of whole grains and not a blend of whole and refined grains, check the ingredient list before purchasing.
Additionally, pay attention to the sugar content, particularly when it comes to breakfast cereals, which are sometimes laden with added sugar. The term “whole grain” on a product’s label does not necessarily imply that it is healthful.
SUMMARYWhole grains contain all three parts of the grain. There are many different kinds, including whole wheat and whole corn, oats, brown rice, and quinoa.
1. High in nutrients and fiber
Whole grains deliver many important nutrients. These include:
- Fiber. The bran provides most of the fiber in whole grains.
- Vitamins. Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins, including
niacin, thiamine, and folate
- Minerals. They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc,
iron, magnesium, and manganese.
- Protein. Whole grains boast
several grams of protein per serving.
- Antioxidants. Many
compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants. These include phytic acid,
lignans, ferulic acid, and sulfur compounds
compounds. Whole grains deliver many types of plant compounds that play a
role in preventing disease. These include polyphenols, stanols, and sterols
The exact amounts of these nutrients depend on the type of grain.
Nevertheless, to give you a sense of their nutritional profile, here are the key nutrients in 1 ounce (28 grams) of dry oats
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Manganese: 69% of the Reference
Daily Intake (RDI)
- Phosphorous: 15% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 14% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 12% of the RDI
- Copper: 9% of the RDI
and iron: 7% of the RDI
SUMMARYWhole grains deliver a variety of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other healthy plant compounds.
2. Lower your risk of heart disease
Reduced risk of heart disease, the world’s leading cause of death, is one of whole grains’ greatest health advantages.
Three 1-ounce (28-gram) portions of whole grains per day may reduce your risk of heart disease by 22%, according to an assessment of 10 research.
In a similar vein, a 10-year study of 17,424 adults found that those who consumed the most whole grains relative to their overall carb intake had a 47% lower risk of heart disease.
Researchers came to the conclusion that diets for heart health should contain more whole grains and less processed carbohydrates.
It might be challenging to differentiate the health benefits of various diets because most research combine many whole grain varieties.
However, studies have shown a direct association between a lower risk of heart disease and whole-grain breads, cereals, and foods with additional bran.
SUMMARYEating whole grains may lower your risk of heart disease, especially when they replace refined grains.
3. Lower your risk of stroke
Your risk of stroke may be reduced by whole grains as well (10Trusted Source).
Those who consumed the most whole grains had a 14% lower risk of stroke than those who consumed the fewest, according to an analysis of 6 trials involving over 250,000 participants.
Additionally, whole grains have nutrients including fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants that can lower your risk of stroke.
The DASH and Mediterranean diets, which may both help lower your risk of stroke, also support whole grains.
SUMMARYAs part of a heart-healthy diet, whole grains may help lower your risk of stroke.
4. Reduce your risk of obesity
Consuming foods high in fiber will help you feel fuller longer and reduce overeating. One reason why high-fiber diets are suggested for weight loss is because of this
Research indicates that whole grains and items produced from them may reduce your risk of obesity since they are more satisfying than processed grains.
In fact, an analysis of 15 research involving approximately 120,000 participants found that consuming three servings of whole grains per day was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) and less belly fat.
Another study that looked at studies from 1965 to 2010 discovered a marginally lower incidence of obesity was linked to whole-grain cereal and cereal with additional bran.
SUMMARYDecades of research suggest that whole grains are linked to a lower risk of obesity.
5. Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
Consuming whole grains as opposed to refined ones may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to an analysis of 16 studies, consuming at least 2 servings of whole grains per day and switching from refined to whole grains can reduce your chance of developing diabetes.
This is in part because whole grains high in fiber can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
Furthermore, research show that consuming whole grains lowers fasting blood sugar levels and enhances insulin sensitivity.
This might be brought on by magnesium, a mineral present in whole grains that facilitates the body’s carbohydrate metabolism and is associated with insulin sensitivity.
SUMMARYFiber and magnesium are two nutrients in whole grains that help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
6. Support healthy digestion
Whole grain fiber can promote healthy digestion in a number of ways.
First, fiber reduces your risk of constipation and helps give stools volume.
Second, some cereal fibers function as prebiotics. This means they aid in nourishing the good bacteria in your stomach, which are crucial for maintaining digestive health.
SUMMARYDue to their fiber content, whole grains help support healthy digestion by giving bulk to stools and feeding your beneficial gut bacteria.
7. Reduce chronic inflammation
Many chronic diseases have inflammation as their primary cause.
There is some proof that whole grains can help decrease inflammation.
According to one study, women who consumed the most whole grains had a lower risk of dying from chronic illnesses associated with inflammation.
Additionally, a recent study found that those with unhealthy diets who switched from refined to whole wheat products observed a decrease in inflammatory markers.
The outcomes of these and other research support recommendations for whole grains to replace most refined grains in diets.
SUMMARYEating whole grains regularly could help lower inflammation, a key factor in many chronic diseases.
8. May reduce your risk of cancer
Although the results are promising, research on whole grains and cancer risk has produced conflicting findings.
Six research in a study of 20 studies revealed a lower risk of cancer, whereas 14 studies found no connection.
According to recent studies, colon cancer, one of the most common types of cancer, is most likely to be prevented by whole grains.
Additionally, several fiber-related health advantages could reduce your risk of developing cancer. These consist of its function as a prebiotic.
Last but not least, other elements found in whole grains, such as phytic acid, phenolic acids, and saponins, may inhibit the growth of cancer.
SUMMARYWhole grains may help prevent colorectal cancer, one of the most common types of cancer. Still, research on whole grains’ anticancer effects is mixed.
9. Linked to a reduced risk of premature death
Your likelihood of dying young also decreases as your risk of chronic disease does.
In fact, one study found that whole grain consumption specifically reduced the risk of passing away from heart disease as well as from any other cause.
The study examined information from two sizable cohort studies and made adjustments for variables like smoking, body weight, and general eating habits that are likely to have an impact on death rates.
The findings showed a 5% lower risk of death for every 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of whole grains.
SUMMARYWhole grains are linked to a lower risk of dying prematurely from any cause.
Whole grains are not for everyone
While whole grains are healthy for most people, they may not be appropriate for all people at all times.
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
Gluten is a type of protein that some people are sensitive to or allergic to and is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Having a gluten sensitivity, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease can result in a number of symptoms, such as joint discomfort, weariness, and indigestion.
For the majority of persons with these illnesses, whole grains free of gluten—including buckwheat, rice, oats, and amaranth—are fine.
However, some people have trouble digesting grains of any kind and exhibit other symptoms, such as stomach pain.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Some grains, such as wheat, are high in short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. These can cause symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is very common.
SUMMARYSome people have difficulty tolerating grains. The most well-known issue is gluten, which affects people with gluten allergy, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity.
How to incorporate whole grains into your diet
There are numerous methods to include whole grains in your diet.
Finding whole-grain substitutes for refined grains in your diet may be the easiest thing to accomplish.
For instance, swap out your pantry’s white pasta for 100% whole-wheat or another whole-grain variety. Apply the same rule to cereals and breads.
To determine whether a product is produced from whole grains, carefully review the ingredient list.
The word “whole” should appear in front of the grain type. It’s not entire if it only says “wheat” rather than “whole wheat.”
You can also try out novel whole grains that you might not have previously tried, like quinoa.
Following are some suggestions for including whole grains in your diet:
- Make a cooked porridge out of oatmeal or other grains.
- Sprinkle toasted buckwheat groats on cereal or yogurt.
- Snack on air-popped popcorn.
- Make polenta out of whole-grain cornmeal.
- Swap out white rice with brown rice, or for a different whole grain
like quinoa or farro.
- Add barley to vegetable soups.
- Try using whole-grain flours, such as whole-wheat pastry flour,
stone-ground corn tortillas rather than white tortillas in tacos.
SUMMARYThere are many ways to work whole grains into your diet. Replacing refined grains with whole grains is a good place to start.
The bottom line
There are many health advantages to eating whole grains.
Consuming whole grains frequently may lower your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. When they take the place of refined grains in your diet, this is especially true.
Although patients with gluten intolerance must avoid wheat, barley, and rye, high-fiber diets like whole grains considerably improve your digestive health.
Consider using whole grains in your diet on a daily basis to increase your health and longevity. Breakfast cereals made from whole grains, including steel-cut oats, are a common option.