Whole Grains: The Real Stuff

June 02, 2011

Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy nutrition program. Often referred to as the 'Staff of Life,'  Whole grains offer a broad spectrum of essential minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese. And that's just for starters... All types of grain are good sources of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and are low in fat, but whole grains offer a multiple of benefits not found in refined grains.  This is because refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran (the outer husk) and germ (the nutritional core) removed from the grain. Vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the process, but this doesn't replace all the nutrients found in whole grains or the naturally-occurring fiber. In fact, the refining process for grain strips away more than half of wheat's B vitamins, 90 percent of the vitamin E and virtually all fiber. As researchers begin to look more closely at carbohydrates and health, they are learning that the quality of the carbohydrates you eat is at least as important as the  quantity. Most studies, including several from different Harvard teams, show a connection between eating whole grains and better health. Digestive Health: The fiber in whole grains helps prevent constipation, a common, costly and aggravating problem; it also also lowers the risk for diverticular disease by decreasing pressure in the intestines. Cardiovascular Disease: In a Harvard-based Nurses' Health Study, women who ate 2 to 3 servings of whole-grain products each day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than 1 serving per week. Studies show that this occurs because  the soluble fiber in grains helps lower cholesterol, lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels, which reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease. Type 2 Diabetes: The health and dietary habits of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years. The study found that women who averaged 2 to 3 servings of whole grains per day were 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate few whole grains. Combining these results with other large studies, researchers found that adding an additional 2 servings of whole grains each day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent. Weight Loss: High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, so you're less likely to overeat. A high-fiber diet also tends to make a meal feel larger and help you stay full for a greater amount of time. Finally, high-fiber diets tend to be less "energy dense," which means there are fewer calories for the same volume of food. Cancer: A large, five-year study among nearly 500,000 men and women suggests that eating whole grains offers modest protection against colorectal cancer. Overall Health: An interesting report from the Iowa Women's Health Study links whole-grain consumption with a lower death rate from non-cardiac, non-cancer causes. Compared with women who rarely or never eat whole-grain foods, those who have at least two or more servings a day are 30 percent less likely to die from an inflammation-related condition over a 17-year period. According to the Mayo clinic, a slice of commercially prepared white bread has 66 calories, 1.9 grams protein and 0.6 grams fiber, while a slice of whole-wheat bread has 69 calories and provides 3.6 grams protein and 1.9 grams fiber. Reaching for whole grain bread could be your first step to a healthier future!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Peters Principles Community 2

Heading Off Osteoarthritis

April 17, 2014

Nearly all of us will come down with osteoarthritis at some point in our lives. That's why a good prevention strategy is key!

Read More

Fitness Pays Off!

April 10, 2014

It's spring and many of us are striving for our personal peak in physical fitness. Whether we want to look better, to feel better, or to fulfill a personal goal, the fact is, exercise effects a lot more than our waistlines!

Read More

This Week with Peter Nielsen

April 10, 2014

This Week with Peter Nielsen

Read More

GET MY NEWSLETTER

KEEP HEALTHY FOR LIFE