Whole Grain Goodness: Why You Should Switch To Whole Grains If You Haven’t Already
With all the dietary recommendations out there, it is easy to get confused. It seems like every day there is some new breakthrough discovery, or unearthing of a long-lost indigenous plant that is the cure for whatever happens to be ailing you.
One recommendation that is pretty much universally agreed upon is that we need whole grains in our diet–and with good reason.
But even the term itself can be confusing: what are whole grains? You’d be hard pressed to find a loaf of bread on the supermarket shelves that doesn’t tout some sort of “whole wheat/whole grain” or something like that on the label. As with most food labels, manufacturers are tricky: even if it says “made with whole grains” that doesn’t mean the majority of it isn’t made of refined grains.
Also make sure the grain is listed among the first three ingredients on the label, and watch out for “healthy” looking bread that is simply dyed brown or mixed with molasses to give it a darker color.
The difference between refined grains and whole grains is important too: 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.
Another great benefit of whole grains is that they help digestion. Fiber has long been known to help move things along in the digestive tract, but studies are showing that it’s benefits aren’t limited to just keeping you regular.
Fiber helps stave off diverticulosis, a bowel condition which causes inflammation, constipation and diarrhea. What’s more, it helps keep the bacterial balance in the gut biome healthy. The lactic acid in whole grains helps with digestion and nutrition absorption, and may even benefit the immune system.
As if that weren’t enough to send you running to the store to buy some whole grain bread, they also can help lower blood pressure. Not only lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, whole grains have been found to lead to a 19 percent lower risk of hypertension in men who ate seven or more servings a week.
And best of all, by replacing refined grains with whole grains, you reduce your risk of heart disease. So toss that white bread and get some wholeness into your life!