Whole grain foods are the foods actually good for you. They are healthy, reduce disease risk, aid digestion and loaded with fibre and other essential nutrients.
When you’re putting on weight and want to lose those extra pounds, you’re recommended a low-calorie diet and a good physical workout. And when it comes to your diet, one thing you’re asked to do is replace refined grains by whole grains as the latter is healthier. But do you know what makes it healthier? Let’s begin by knowing what whole grains are and how are they good for health.
Whole grains are basically grains of cereal and pseudocereal containing endosperm (mostly contains carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of minerals and B vitamins), bran (fibre, B vitamins, phytochemicals, antioxidants and 50-80% minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, copper) and germ (mostly contains B vitamins, phytochemicals, healthy fats, antioxidants like Vitamin E). While in refined grains, only endosperm is retained and most of the bran and some of germ is removed. As a result, this leads to providing us with less fibre, vitamins, phytochemicals, minerals and proteins. (7.1)
And anyways, obese or not, whole grain foods should be consumed as they have a high nutrition value. Let’s now know some lesser-known facts about whole grain foods.
Whole grains help you in controlling your appetite and weight by leaving you feel satiated for longer as compared to refined grain foods such as cookies or white bread. The whole grains take longer to digest and can also help in keeping a check on your portions. Rye and protein-packed quinoa give a feeling of complete fullness.
Whole grain foods help in living better as well and longer. According to a study, over 40,000 postmenopausal women discovered that women consuming 4-7 servings had 31% lower risk of dying from causes other than cancer or heart disease as compared to women who hardly consumed it. So was the case with men, another study found that men having 1-2 servings of whole grains reduced their risk of dying earlier by 17% as compared to those who didn’t have it or had in small amounts.
You might not actually lose weight by eating whole grains but studies suggest that it can help you cut down on the body fat leading to a healthier fat redistribution. Consuming whole grains especially helps in losing belly fat (or central adiposity) thereby reducing risk of diabetes and other health problems.
As the whole grains have high fibre content, it keeps the bowel movements regular. The studies have suggested that people eating more fibre needed lesser laxatives. The whole grain foods are also effective in curing diverticulosis (the condition in which little pouches is formed in the colon wall, causing inflammation and constipation). Other than fiber, the whole grains also contain lactic acid that promotes “good bacteria” in the large intestine. These organisms help in digestion, promote better nutrition absorption and may even strengthen body’s immune system.
Eating whole grains reduces risk of various diseases. Regulating blood sugar, protecting teeth and gums, lowering cholesterol, reducing asthma and cancer risk, are few of many health benefits of consuming whole grain foods. (7.2)
In some people who are genetically susceptible, gluten (protein found in some grains especially wheat) can trigger non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, celiac disease, and dermatitis herpetiformis. (7.3)
When refined grains are switched by whole grains, you can make low-calorie fast foods healthier. Pizza can be cooked in a healthy way by using whole-wheat English muffin, pita or bagel and topping it up with tomato sauce, low-fat cheese and veggies. And when you go out for dinner at a restaurant, ask for brown rice or whole wheat pasta along with you meal.
The staple of Andean people, the whole grain ‘quinoa’ goes back to 3,000 to 4,000 year old Inca civilization. The Incas regarded it sacred and referred to it as “chisaya mama” or "mother of all grains" or “gold of Incas”.
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