Monday, September 8, 2014

7 Reasons Why Whole Grains are Good for You

Since September is National Whole Grains Month, I thought I would write a post about whole grains and 7 reasons why they are good for you.

Disclaimer: I understand that some individuals have Celiac's Disease and/or sensitive to gluten, and  should refrain from eating whole wheat or other products containing gluten. This article is for those who are not.

Photo courtesy of www.milesperret.org
I love whole grains so much I would cry if I couldn't eat them. As a runner, I have a good excuse to eat them since complex carbohydrates are good for runners :). White bread products are just products that have selenium, magnesium, and other important nutrients taken out. That is why they typically last longer than their whole grains/wheat counterparts.  Selenium is a mineral but acts as an antioxidant which protects cells from oxidation and assist in the production of thyroid hormones. It is also important for a healthy immune system. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles.


 
I have noticed lately that whole grains are starting to be shunned upon. Some people completely eliminate them from their diet, not because they have Celiac's disease, but in the name of being healthy. First of all, I would like to point out that the white and enriched breads are what may  contribute to weight gain and blood sugar fluctuations. The typical American eats a lot of carbohydrates in the form of simple carbohydrates (white bread, donuts, candy, pizza) but do not eat enough complex carbohydrates.


Here are 7 reasons why whole grains are good for you.

1. Whole grain foods have a lower glycemic index than simple carbohydrates resulting in a more gradual release of insulin. There are less severe fluctuations in both insulin and glucose when eating these foods.
2. Whole grain foods provide more nutrients such as iron, zinc, niacin, folate, and thiamin than enriched flour products.
3. Whole wheat or whole grain bread contains more fiber. Enriched white bread or un-enriched white bread contain 76% less fiber than whole grain.
4. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The main benefits of whole grains

The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
 
stroke risk reduced 30-36%
type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
better weight maintenance
 
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
 
healthier carotid arteries
reduction of inflammatory disease risk
lower risk of colorectal cancer
healthier blood pressure levels
less gum disease and tooth loss
 
5. Consuming foods containing fiber, such as whole grains, as part of a healthy diet, may reduce constipation.
6. Eating grain products fortified with folate before and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects during fetal development.
7. Eating enough fiber helps to decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and increases the HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) levels.

Are you a fan of whole grains?

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