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 over-all weight maintenance
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
- reduced risk of asthma
- healthier carotid arteries
- reduction of inflammatory disease risk
- lower risk of colorectal cancer
- healthier blood pressure levels
- less gum disease and tooth loss
Grains are nutritional powerhouses – loaded with minerals and vitamins, high-quality fiber, plus being low in fat and free of cholesterol! They are also packed with complex carbohydrates, which provide time-released energy as they are broken down by the body very slowly.
All grains are made up of 3 parts: an outer layer or husk composed of a rich assortment of iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium and large amounts of B vitamins as well as generous amounts of fiber and beneficial plant compounds which appear to act as potent antioxidants.
The middle layer or endosperm is mostly protein and carbohydrates. The inner layer or germ is rich in vitamins E, A, B, protein, calcium, iron and a variety of beneficial plant compounds. The fiber in whole grains increases bulk, which promotes quicker elimination of body wastes, reducing the amount of time the colon is exposed to potential cancer-causing substances. Whole grains also reduce the incidence of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease.
Insoluble fiber is the rough, stringy part of a plant that provides bulk as an aid to a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Grains such as wheat bran, whole wheat flour, rye, millet, oats, barley, nuts and seeds are in this category. Soluble fiber helps regulate blood sugar, fat and cholesterol levels. You can tell when a food has soluble fiber, because, like oatmeal it thickens after being cooked. The best sources are oats, wheat, rice bran and legumes. During digestion grains provide an even flow of energy and stamina to help us feel full longer.
Oats are easily digested and reasonably high in protein. Oats contain beta-glucan, a spongy, soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol in the body by mopping up the precursors of cholesterol in the intestines. Studies concluded that to lower the amount of cholesterol in one’s blood by consuming oat products, 3 grams of soluble fiber was needed daily. This would equal 1 1/2 cups cooked oatmeal. Oats are the only cereal containing saponin, a hormone-like substance that helps our pancreas regulate insulin production. For people wanting to avoid wheat, oats make an ideal substitute.
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Alberta Foothills of the Canadian Rockies
High River, Alberta