Making The Whole Grain Switch: Some Amazing Benefits Of Eating Whole Grains
By Kurtis Bright
Everybody’s Talking About Whole Grains--But Why? Here Are Some Amazing Benefits
With so many conflicting dietary recommendations out there, it’s easy to get confused. Every day it seems like there’s some new breakthrough health study, some re-discovery of a long-lost indigenous plant that is the latest miracle cure.
However some things are based on pretty solid evidence that has been accumulated over a long time. One of these that is pretty much universally agreed upon is that we need whole grains in our diet.
However, as with many things in this age of too much information and not enough knowledge, even the term itself can be confusing: what exactly are whole grains?
The difference between refined grains and whole grains may seem a matter of splitting hairs, but it is actually quite important: whole grains include all the parts of the original grain kernel, the bran, germ and endosperm, which give us the fiber we need. Two sliced of dark rye bread contain 5.8 grams of fiber whereas two slices of white bread only contain 1.9 grams of fiber.
And fiber is important because it digests more slowly, and makes us feel fuller and more satiated. What’s more, fiber helps control blood sugar levels, lowers LDL or bad cholesterol, and reduces the risk of colon cancer. For grains with the highest fiber content look for oats, barley and bulgur. So when you eat foods made with whole grains as opposed to refined grains (white bread, pasta, etc.) you are going to not only feel fuller longer, you will avoid the dreaded sugar crash that comes with eating high glycemic-index foods.
These days a random loaf of bread on the supermarket shelves is as likely to tout some sort of “whole wheat/whole grain” notice on the label as not. But as with most food labels, manufacturers are tricksy little Hobbitses: even if it says “made with whole grains” that bread could still contain a majority of refined grains over whole grains.
Another thing to look for is that the grain is listed among the first three ingredients on the label. And another trick from unscrupulous manufacturers seeking to cash in on people’s desire for healthier food: be wary of “healthy” looking bread that is simply refined grain bread that has been dyed brown or mixed with molasses to give it a darker color.
In addition to helping us feel fuller and staving off hunger longer, whole grains also help with digestion. We’ve known this for some time, but recent studies are showing that the benefits of fiber aren’t limited to just keeping you regular.
For one thing, fiber helps prevent diverticulosis, a bowel condition typified by inflammation, constipation and diarrhea. It also helps keep the bacterial balance in the gut healthy. And the lactic acid in whole grains aid digestion and nutrition absorption, and may even benefit the immune system.
What’s more, whole grains also can help lower blood pressure by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Eating whole grains have even been found to contribute to a 19 percent lower risk of hypertension in men who ate seven or more servings a week.
Perhaps best of all, by replacing refined grains with whole grains, your risk of heart disease is greatly reduced.
Gosh, it’s almost like we evolved to eat whole, natural foods as they grow out of the ground, as opposed to refined, chemical-laden, mass-manufactured “foods” that have been stripped of all nutritive value in the name of profit.