Nutritional Benefits of Whole Grains

Whole grains contain many essential nutrients and health-boosting properties that help you control blood sugar, weight and reduce the risk of disease.

According to the American Dietetic Association, adults should consume at least three servings of whole grains daily to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and excess weight gain; however, Americans typically eat less than one serving per day. Although whole grains are often avoided because whole grains are typically high in carbohydrates, whole grains are different than refined grains and offer a variety of essential nutrients that make whole grains a healthy boost to any diet.

Nutrients in Whole Grains

Unlike refined grains, whole grains retrain their vitamins and minerals. Whole grains such as oats, whole wheat pastas and whole grain breads are excellent sources of:

  • Fiber
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc

In addition, many whole grains, like oats and rye, are good sources of protein. Whole grains also contain phytonutrients which have antioxidant activity, offering the body protection from free radical damage.

Whole Grains, Blood Sugar and Weight

According to the authors of Magic Foods, those who eat 3 servings of whole grains per day have lower blood sugar levels, lower body fat, and are 54% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who eat less than one serving of whole grains every day. Certain whole grains, such as whole grain bread, rye bread, and brown rice have less of an impact on blood sugar than refined grains because whole grains digest slower than refined grains.

Whole grains can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health Nurses’ Health Study showed that of the 74,000 women participants, those who ate the most whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight over a 12-year period than the women who did not.

Studies also show adults who consume a lot of whole grains reduce their risk of developing heart disease by 15 to 30 percent compared to those who eat only refined grains.

Buying Whole Wheat and Whole Grain Products

When buying whole wheat or whole grain breads and pastas, it is important to look for more than just the word “wheat” on the label. Since many flours are made with wheat, companies are permitted to list their product as whole wheat when the product may actually contain very little whole wheat flour. To ensure you are purchasing actual whole wheat or whole grain breads and pastas, look for the word “whole” as one of the first ingredients on the label.

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