Whole Grains For Health
Grains are considered whole when they are not stripped of their nutritional value such as white bread and rice. Like fruits and vegetables whole grains contain a high concentration of anti-oxidants which keep our body healthy and strong.
Opting for whole wheat ensures the most nutritional benefits, including the bran and the germ’s vitamin E, major—B vitamins, anti-oxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats. So it is high time to alter our food habits and go for whole grains.
You can easily swap out some of the foods you already eat for the whole grain version of the same thing such as brown bread, brown rice, whole wheat, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereals, whole snacks like popcorn and whole grain flours etc. There are several to choose from and each lends a different taste to the finished product.
Here are a few health benefits of whole grains
- Whole grains are absorbed more slowly than foods made from enriched flour, so the raise in glucose and insulin levels are less and keep us feeling fuller and longer.
- Lower insulin levels may also contribute to the protective effects of whole grains. Whole grains improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the glecemic index of the diet while increasing its content of fiber, magnesium and vitamin E.
- In many studies it has been found that eating whole grains gives us protection from atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and premature death. It is recommended to eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.
- Whole grains are excellent source of fiber. Highest intake of dietary fiber lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to the nutrients in their dietary fibers, the whole grain arsenal includes a wide variety of additional nutrients and phyto-nutrients that also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Compounds in whole grains that have cholesterol lowering effects include polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and stanols and sponins.
- Whole grains are also important dietary sources of water soluble, fat soluble, and insoluble anti-oxidants. These multi-functional anti-oxidants come in immediate release to slow release forms and thus are available throughout the gastrointestinal tract over a long period after being consumed.
- Like soybeans, whole grains are good sources of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that may affect blood cholesterol levels, blood vessel elasticity, bone metabolism and many other cellular metabolic processes.
- Whole grains are rich source of lignans that are converted by the human gut to enterolactone and enterodiole. Studies suggest that blood levels of entrolactone have been found to have an inverse relation not just to cardiovascular related death, but to all causes of death. So these lignans in whole grains play an important role in their protective effect.
- Dietary fiber from whole grain foods help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart diseases, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation. Fiber containing foods such as whole grains give a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
- The B Vitamins thiamin, niacin and riboflavin play an important role in metabolism. They help the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. Folate another B vitamin helps the body form red blood cells. Pregnant women should consume adequate folate from foods. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects during fetal development.
- Whole grains are enriched with iron which is very important to carry oxygen in the blood. Foods containing vitamin C also helps in absorption of iron.
- Whole grains are a source of minerals like magnesium which is helpful in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. The presence of selenium protects cells from oxidation.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna