Written by Gurleen Khaira
Over recent years, there has been lots of discussions around whether or not grains are good for our health. Most of us would have eaten at least one portion of grains today whether it be your cereal, pasta or bread, your meal likely contained grains. Basically, any food made from rice, oats, wheat or any other cereal grain is a grain product. However, it is important to differentiate between whole grains and refined grains.
A whole grain is essentially a grain that is completely intact, in that it consists of the bran, germ and endosperm ie it is the whole grain. In contrast, refined grains have their bran and germ taken away, leaving only the endosperm. Any bad press around grains you have heard will likely be about refined grains as the most nutritious part of the grain (the bran and germ) have been removed, meaning refined grains give you limited nutrients and benefit.
Unlike refined grains, whole grains offer many advantages to your health. These include:
1. High in Fibre
Whole grains have high fibre contents, which is of course good for your digestive system and gut health. Fibre has many benefits, most famous being the ability to control blood sugar levels, prevent colon cancer and decrease ‘bad’ cholesterol. To put it into context, half a glass of uncooked brown rice (whole grain) provides 5.5 grams of fibre, compared to only 2 grams provided by uncooked white rice.
2. Better Heart Health
Many studies have found that eating whole grains reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Ultimately, this helps you maintain a healthy heart.
3. Reduce High Blood Pressure
Eating whole grains can help with high blood pressure, which is also linked to heart health. In fact, one study found that eating three portions of whole grains a day had a similar impact on reducing the risk of having a heart attack as high blood pressure medication.
4. Lower Mortality Risk
You may be surprised to hear this, but eating whole grains has been shown to reduce your risk of death. One study in particular, which consisted of a meta-analysis of studies in the USA, UK and Scandinavian countries, found that those who ate 70 grams of whole grains per day had a 22% lower risk of mortality compared to those who had less than the specified amount.
5. Improve Weight Loss
Whole grains are said to reduce your risk of obesity. Due to their fibre content, whole grains are very filling. This means they make you feel full and reduce your appetite for more food, which ultimately helps you lose weight. Studies support this as eating whole grains has been linked to lower BMI and less tummy fat.
6. Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Whole grains are said to help your gut digest glucose and improve your body’s response to insulin. As a result, whole grains are said to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes (if you have at least 2 portions per day).
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