Is what you know about grains true? Check out the major health benefits of grains
- 2 Minutes Read
Is it all hype, or are there major health benefits of grains? You probably think it’s all about the fiber, right? Well, there’s more to the story about why it’s smart to include them in your daily diet.
A carbohydrate in grains, fiber is not digested or absorbed. Research shows that fiber may lower cancer risk by diluting cancer-causing agents and promoting healthy digestive bacteria growth. Fiber comes mainly from the grain's outer layer or bran. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, which helps control blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Oats and barley are rich in soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber increases the bulk and weight of stool, dilutes harmful substances, and speeds waste elimination from the body. Whole wheat is a prime example of a high-insoluble fiber grain.
In addition to fiber, the hidden benefits of whole grains deserve our attention. In particular, whole grains are a source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Research indicates that many of these vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals also help our bodies fight cancer. A synergy of compounds works together to fight the free radicals associated with cancer growth. Manganese, for example, is a mineral found in whole grains that helps us handle oxidative stress. Selenium, a trace mineral also found in whole grains, helps the body prevent cell damage and promotes a healthy immune system. Don't forget the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E, a known antioxidant.
Eating a variety of whole grains is the best way to harness the health benefits of grains and the broadest range of these powerful nutrients and antioxidants. Whole wheat is rich in vitamin E. Other whole grains that contain potent antioxidants include buckwheat, kamut, oats, and quinoa. Buckwheat has high levels of the antioxidant rutin, which improves circulation and may prevent clogged arteries. Kamut, an ancient form of wheat, has significant amounts of protein and vitamin E. Oats, meanwhile, have avenanthramides. These substances help protect the blood vessels from LDL cholesterol. And quinoa has all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Additionally, brown, red, or black rice is an excellent source of selenium.
What is your favorite strategy for including whole grains?
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