Have you heard the buzz about Whole Grains? Well Grains are the most commonly consumed foods worldwide. Wheat, rice and corn are consumed in that order. Knowledge of their consumption goes back 10,000 years. Grains are a key human fuel and are a good source of complex carbohydrates. These rich sources of starch and fiber are the cheapest caloric supply for the world.
Whole grain means the complete grain. The health benefits of whole grain come from all three parts of the grain. The three parts are the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outer shell and protects the grain. It contains indigestible cellulose fiber, B-vitamins and trace minerals, such as zinc. The germ is the small part of the grain and the most essential. It is a nutrient storehouse. That is where antioxidants, minerals, vitamin E, B vitamins and healthy fats are stored. The endosperm is the bulk of the grain. It is composed of carbohydrates (starch) and proteins; thus it provides the energy.
What are the benefits of whole grains? Research shows consistent support that regular consumption of whole grains provides significant health benefits. There is a reduction in the risk of Cardiovascular disease, Cancer and Diabetes. Two or more servings per day of whole grains can lower the risk of death from heart disease by 30%. There are protective effects of whole grain consumption by overweight women against Heart disease. For women Breast cancer is a major issue. The rise of younger women being diagnosed with Breast cancer has increased. A recent Italian study found that women having been diagnosed with Breast cancer had a diet high in refined grains, but women with a diet high in whole grains were linked to a lower rate of developing the disease. Chronic constipation has been linked to an increased risk of Colon cancer. One study of people (men and women) who ate lots of whole grains found that they had half as much Colon cancer as people who ate few whole grains. Studies have also shown that diets high in whole grains also reduce the risk of Gallbladder, Mouth, Ovarian and Stomach cancers. The Nurses’ Health Study found that the nurses who ate mostly sugar and refined carbohydrates had a 2 ½ times greater risk of developing type II Diabetes. Whereas, the nurses who incorporated whole grains into their diet had a lower risk. Reason being, the whole grains help to keep blood sugar low, thus reducing the risk of developing Diabetes.
Whole grains also aid in weight management. Whole grains help one feel full for a longer period of time, so less calories are consumed in a day. In choosing foods don’t be conceived. Look for the words “whole” plus the grain type in the ingredient list. It will appear as “Whole Wheat” or “Whole Oats” near the top of the list of ingredients. Whole grain camouflage will appear as enriched flour, stone-ground wheat, unbleached wheat flour and multigrain.
There are easy ways to add whole grains to your diet. Serve breakfast cereals with whole grains. Serve brown rice instead of white rice. Use whole grains in dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup. Use whole grain flour in baked treats, such as cookies. Munch on whole grain snacks. Lastly, make sandwiches on whole grain bread.
RECIPE: Overnight Oats with Berries
It is a breakfast that is easy, healthy and full of nutrients. The ingredients are mixed together the night before and in the morning there is a wholesome breakfast of chilled oats and berries.
Ingredients: ½ cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon honey, ¼ cup fresh raspberries, ¼ cup fresh blueberries, 2 tablespoons chopped pecans.
Mix together the oats, milk and honey in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, top with fresh berries and pecans. Add more honey if desired. Enjoy your wholesome breakfast.