Choo! Choo! There’s a new train in town, and it’s express to healthy-town! This train is the whole grain train, and it is ready for you and your family to step aboard!
To understand what a whole grain is, you must first understand the anatomy of a grain itself. A whole grain consists of 3 parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. The bran is the outermost layer which contains fiber, B vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is the center layer and the largest and contains carbohydrates and proteins. The germ is the smallest part and the innermost and contains antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins, and healthy fats. The reason we should understand this is to clearly see how many nutrients these small grains have to offer. When they are milled, or refined, like our white breads and rice, both the bran and germ are stripped off, leaving only the endosperm! What a waste of the good stuff!
Because of the various nutrients whole grains have to offer, they provide us with just as many health benefits:
Reduces heart disease and stroke- Because of the high fiber content of whole grains, it helps to increase our good cholesterol and reduce our bad cholesterol, thus leading to a healthier heart and reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease!
Reduces risk of certain cancers- According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, whole grains contain many nutrients that can play a role in reducing cancer risk, especially antioxidants. By also increasing your plant intake, you will lower your animal and meat intake which helps in preventing numerous cancers as well.
Reduces chance of developing diabetes- Studies have shown that individuals who consume more whole grains rather than refined grains are less likely to have diabetes. This may be due to the high magnesium content as well as replacing your simple sugar intake with complex carbohydrates.
Reduces obesity- Whole grains are packed with fiber which helps us stay fuller for longer and can curb your appetite!
Remember, at least half of your grains daily should be whole and you can be sure of this by the labeling under the ingredients list. Be warned, just because something is labeled “multi-grain” does NOT mean it contains whole grain. As long as it specifically states the word “whole” before the grain name, you are good to go! Some examples of whole grains to add to your diet today are: whole wheat, barley, bulgur, faro, millet, quinoa, and wheat berries.
The next train comes in soon; will you and your family be on board?