Between the low-carb craze and the paleo frenzy, modern diet trends tend to vilify carbs of all kinds. But not all carbs are created equal. While eating three slices of white bread a day might increase your chances of obesity and inflammation, the benefits of whole grains are scientifically proven. Find out how whole grains can reduce your cholesterol, lower your chance of heart disease, and so much more.
Benefits of Whole Grains
Which Foods Contain Whole Grains?
Whole grains exist in a wide variety of carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread and brown rice. If you’re not sure if something contains whole grains, just check the product label or the Nutrition Facts panel. Common foods containing whole grains include the following:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Foods containing wheat berry
- Foods containing bulgur
Nutritional Benefits of Whole Grains
So, what’s all the fuss about whole grains? Whole grains pack a serious nutritional punch, delivering many important nutrients:
- Fiber:Whole grains are high in fiber, which keeps your digestive system clean and healthy and flushes cholesterol and carcinogens out of the body.
- Vitamins and Minerals:Whole grains are particularly high in B vitaminslike niacin, thiamine, and folate. They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, and magnesium. All of these vitamins and minerals keep your body healthy throughout your golden years.
- Antioxidants:Whole grains contain several compounds that act as antioxidants, including phytic acid, ferulic acid, and sulfur compounds. Antioxidants help remove toxins and inflammation from the body.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Whole grains are proven to lower your risk of heart disease, which is perhaps their most compelling health benefit. Why? Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. A review of 10 studiesfound that three one-ounce servings of whole grains daily may lower a person’s risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent, which is a staggering number. These studies led researchers to conclude that heart-healthy dietsshould include more whole grains.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Diabetes experts recommend replacing refined, simple sugars (like those in white bread) with complex sources of whole grains to reduce your risk of diabetes. One study involving nearly 200,000 participants showed that eating brown rice can reduce the chances of developing diabetesby 16 percent. The study found that other whole grains can reduce the chances even further. If you already have diabetes, whole grains can also help control your symptoms. One study found that eating a breakfast rich in foods like rolled oats and brown rice can actually prevent blood sugar spikesthroughout the day in existing diabetics.
The health benefits of whole grains are clear – so how can you incorporate these superfoods into your diet? Start by enjoying whole-grain cereals like bran flakes or oatmeal for breakfast. You can also make sandwiches using whole-grain breads, replace white rice with quinoa, and add wild rice or barley to soups, stews, casseroles and salads. Just make sure to keep an eye on these foods’ sugar content. Just because a food is identified as a “whole grain,” that doesn’t mean it is automatically healthy.
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