Today the challenge is to add something wholegrain to your diet. But what exactly is a wholegrain?
A whole grain is a cereal grain that contains the germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm
What this means basically is that refined grains lose most of their nutritional value. The Bran which is the outer layer of the grain contains fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The germ contains vitamin E, folate, thiamine, phosphorus and magnesium, whilst the endosperm in mainly just starch. This is the reason nutritionists recommend wholegrains over refined grains.
Some people confuse the two together but grains like wheat, barley, oat, rye, corn and rice are not considered wholegrains. Wholegrains include wholemeal or wholegrain breads or crispbreads, dark ‘seedy’ breads, wholegrain breakfast cereals, wheatgerm, brown rice, puffed whole grains, bulgur, quinoa, couscous, popcorn and oatmeal.
Thats a fairly good list to choose something to eat today. But lets take a look at why we should be eating wholegrains:
- Wholegrains help protect against heart disease
Studies have shown that a high intake of wholegrains (at least 2.5 serves per day) is associated with 21 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular events. Also regularly eating cereals that are rich in soluble fibre, such as oats (containing beta-glucans) and psyllium, has been found to significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
- Type 2 Diabetes
Research suggest that two serves of wholegrains daily can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 21%. For people who already have type 2 diabetes an increase in wholegrains have been linked to improvements in insulin sensitivity.
- Weight Loss
Wholegrains have a lower energy density so they make you feel full on less calories and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Swapping refined grains for wholegrains is a simple way to assist in weight loss.
- Bowel Health
Wholegrains are high in fibre which improves the digestive processes significantly. Diets with wholegrains have been shown to increase beneficial bacteria and decrease destructive bacteria and the build up of carcinogenic compounds.
Because of the benefits to bowel health above, studies have shown that 2 servings of wholegrains daily reduce the risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer by 20%.