Adding whole grains to your menu is a great way to boost the health value of your diet. Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals. A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer! Unfortunately, the average American eats less than a single serving of whole grains each day, while over 40% simply do not eat whole grains! Don't ignore the opportunity to add important health protections to your daily regimens with these great whole grains.
Oats are rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that offers protection for the heart. Oatmeal contains insoluble fiber which stays in the stomach longer and helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time which helps curb snacking throughout the day. Soluble fiber, also found in oatmeal, can decrease low density lipoprotein cholesterol -- the “bad cholesterol” -- by as much as 10-15 percent and is known to decrease the risk of high blood pressure while aiding against cardiovascular disease. The water soluble properties of beta-glucan help control blood sugar by slowing down digestion time, assisting in better glycemic control and prevention of insulin resistance.
A fiber and protein powerhouse, a single cup of bulgur contains almost 75 percent of your daily dietary fiber and 25 percent of your daily protein requirements. Bulgur is a great source of manganese, a mineral that is essential for bone health. Most commonly eaten in tabbouleh, bulgur is also a great addition to soup and salads. Bulgur is not advisable for those on a gluten-free diet, try rye or barley instead!
Brown rice is an excellent source of the minerals manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, selenium, magnesium and potassium and is rich in B vitamins, such as niacin and folate. Brown rice aids cardiovascular system functions along with the digestive system, brain and nervous system. Chock full of powerful antioxidants, it helps provide relief from hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels, stress, and skin disorders. The high nutritional content in brown rice has also proven effective against some cancers, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and insomnia.
Barley and oats are the primary sources of beta glucan, a soluble dietary fiber that helps lower 'bad' cholesterol by binding it to bile acids for removal from the body. Soluble fiber may also reduce the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver. Barley is a good source of niacin, a B vitamin that provides protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors.
Rye has four times more fiber than standard whole wheat and provides nearly 50 percent of the daily recommended amount of iron. It is also rich in noncellulose polysaccharides, which slow the emptying of food from the stomach, bind bile acids, and support colon health. Rye contains lignans, a phytoestrogen that protects breast tissue from the cancer-inducing effects of estrogen.
Still not convinced? Here a a few more benefits that may convince you.
We all eat grains in some form, eating them whole is the healthiest choice!
- Whole grains redistribute fat , particularly reducing belly fat, reducing your risk of diabetes and other health issues.
- Whole grains help regulate blood sugar by preventing spikes in your blood glucose, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Whole grains are a good source of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which help maintain healthy metabolism.
- Whole grains deliver the essential minerals that are required to stay healthy, including iron to transport oxygen throughout our bodies, magnesium to build bones, and selenium to protect against oxidation.