Whole grains are cereal grains that contain all essential parts of the grain, in contrast to refined grains, like white flour, in which most of these have been removed by processing, which also removes many of their beneficial nutrients. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains protects against many chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Whole grains contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. This includes all three parts of the kernel; the bran, germ and endosperm. Refining the grain usually removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain's protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients.
Common wholegrain products include:
Whole grains Are Nutritionally Superior
Whole-grain foods are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack many nutrients into a small package. They are high in fiber, low in calories, a rich source of complex carbohydrates, and also contain protein, and a small amount of fat.
Findings from Cornell University report that whole grains contain protective antioxidants in quantities rivaling or exceeding those in fruits and vegetables. corn, for instance, has almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples, while wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in antioxidant activity. (American Institute for cancer Research (AICR) International Conference on Food, nutrition and cancer, Nov. 2004)
Antioxidants like Vitamin E are found in whole grains in high levels. Vitamin E helps to protect against inflammation and damage caused by free radicals, which is associated with leading to cancer. Phytosterols, another type of antioxidant found in whole grains, helps to regulate cholesterol levels, keeping blood vessels healthy. Whole grains also contain magnesium, potassium, and folate.
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, both insoluble and soluble forms of fiber. This not only promotes digestive health by moving food through the digestive system more smoothly, but also protects against digestive diseases like colorectal cancer.
In addition to digestive health, research has linked whole grain products and whole grains in general to a range of health benefits. The following are some of the benefits that repeated studies have linked to the consumption of whole grains:
Many products such as flour and bread are labeled as "enriched". Enriched means the grains used were refined during processing by removing the bran and germ, which is where all the fiber and nutrients are. Refining makes grains less chewy, easier for manufacturers to use in packaged foods, and gives foods a longer shelf life. To make up for the lost nutrients, manufacturers add B vitamins and minerals, along with folic acid back into the product, which is why they are referred to as "enriched."