Whole-grain consists of all consumable parts of the grain, including endosperm, bran, and germ. Whole grains fall into two categories- pseudo-cereals and cereals. Cereal grains are derived from cereal grasses such as corn, rye, wheat, millet, oat, barley, sorghum, and rice. Whereas, the pseudo-cereal grains don’t derive from grasses, and include buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. Not to mention, whole grains include popcorn as well.
Whole grains can be mashed, rolled, or split. But forasmuch as all the three components are present, they are treated as whole grains. Refined grains contain endosperm only; the bran and germ of refined grams are removed during the process of refining.
Nutrients in Whole Grain
Whole grains are rich with several essential nutrients and have a lot of health benefits. Whole grain contains minerals (selenium, iron, and magnesium), dietary fibers, and several B vitamins (niacin, folate, thiamin, riboflavin). The B vitamins play a vital role in metabolism since they assist the body to release energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are also very crucial for the health of the nervous system.
Dietary fibers present in whole grains and other foods help in lowering down the cholesterol level and minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disorders, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Fiber is also crucial for bowel health and functions and also relieves diverticulosis and constipation. Another B vitamin, folate, helps the body in the formation of red blood cells.
Whole grain contains magnesium, which helps in releasing the energy from the muscles and in building bones. Selenium preserves the cells from oxidation and is significant for the immune system. Whole grains also contain antioxidants that are not found in other vegetables and fruits.
How Much Whole Grain is enough?
It is recommended by the experts to consume six servings of grains daily (at least three of which must be whole grain). A grain serving can include pasta or rice, one slice of bread, a cup of dry-cold cereal, a half cup of cooked oatmeal, a sandwich, and popcorns.
A Brief Guide to Buying Whole Grains
You can find the whole grains in your local grocery store either in the pasta or rice aisle or in the bulk foods section. Few stores keep the whole-grain products in the international aisle or the “health foods” section. If you do not find any particular product that you want from the store, you can order it from the Amazon.
Additionally, you should check the package label before buying any product to make sure it is 100% whole grain food. Look through the ingredient list and look for the word “whole” before any “grain” (whole wheat). Look out for the flours that are enriched or refined. The whole-grain stamp is displayed on some products as an indicator by the Whole grain Council. The purpose of it is to show the consumers the actual amount of whole-grain present in a product.
Gluten-Free Whole Grain
There is a bounty of incredible gluten-free grains out there like corn, brown rice, quinoa, and many more. Grains that should be avoided include triticale, rye, wheat (farro, wheat berries, bulgur, spelt, and Kamut), and barley. Oats are gluten-free, but there is a higher chance of cross-combination during production, so make sure to buy gluten-free oats.
Ways to Add More Whole Grains into Your Diet
Whole grains are very beneficial to our health, but since they taste different to your taste buds, it takes some time to adapt to the new grains. Here are a few ways that will help you in adding more whole grains into your diet:
- Eat popcorn but avoid selecting pre-popped corn stifled in salt, sugar, or fat.
- Choose whole-grain cereals, crackers, bread, and bagels. You can relish a sandwich at lunch with two slices of wheat germ, whole-meal, multigrain, granary, mixed, or seeded grain bread.
- Eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal for breakfast. But keep in mind that even the products made with whole-grain are not always healthy. Therefore, always read the label before choosing your favorite cereal.
- Eat whole grain snacks like oatcakes, rye crackers, and whole-grain rice cakes. Scan the stamp before buying any snack because despite being made with whole grains, it can still contain sodium, calories, and fats.
- Choose whole wheat, blended pasta, or brown rice. Add whole grains to your pies, cakes, and pastries—in short, test different grains and check out which ones suit you the best.
- Try some of the unfamiliar whole grains like pilafs, whole-grain salads, risottos, and other grain dishes made with millet, barley, sorghum, brown rice, and quinoa.
Health Benefits of Whole Grain
Whole grains provide several vital nutrients like protein, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, plants compound, and vitamins. Due to the presence of these nutrients, whole grains deliver many benefits. Let’s discuss a few of the benefits of whole grain.
- Good for Heart Health
Whole grains are beneficial for your heart health. They reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading cause of death. Include more whole grains into your diet and fewer refined grains. Whole grain cereals, bread, and added bran are all linked to the reduced risks of heart disease.
- Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
An analysis of 16 studies concluded that consuming at least two servings of whole-grain daily and adding whole-grain varieties instead of refined grain, minimizes the risk of diabetes. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which prevents obesity by controlling the weight. Obesity is a linked factor in type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces The Risk of Cancer
Research conducted to see the effect of whole grains on cancer gave mixed results. In an analysis of 20 studies, 14 studies indicated no link between whole grain and cancer, while 6 showed the lowered risks of cancer.
Recent studies proposed that whole grain has a powerful anti-cancer effect against colorectal cancer. Colorectal is one of the common types of cancer.
- Reduces the Risk of Obesity
Consuming foods rich with fibers prevents you from overeating by making you feel satiated. Therefore, it is recommended to have high fiber diets for weight loss. As compared to refined grains, whole grain and its products are more filing and help reduce the risk of obesity.
- Promotes Healthy Digestion
Whole grains contain fiber, which aids in healthy digestion in several ways. Fiber reduces the hazards of constipation and gives bulk to stool. Some varieties of grain fibers act asprebiotics that feeds the beneficial gut bacteria.
- Reduces The Risk of Premature Death
With the reduced risk of chronic diseases, the risk of premature death is also reduced. One study proposed that by consuming whole grain, the risk of death due to heart conditions or various other reasons gets lower.
The study gathered the data from two great cohort studies, altering other variables likely to impact death rates, like body weight, smoking, and in general eating patterns. Results demonstrated that every 28 grams (1-ounce) severing of whole grains was connected to a 5% reduced death risk.
Help your family in staying strong and healthy by adding whole grains into your diet in the form of cereals, snacks, soup, and other delicious and favorable meals. Whole grain is packed with a lot of essential minerals and vitamins, which makes it beneficial for you to fight and protect the body from severe health conditions.