Fibre is the main reason to consume whole grains. Adults need around 25 to 35 grams of fibre every day, and whole grains contain two types of fibre — soluble and insoluble —which are both incredibly beneficial to your health.
Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels. Foods with soluble fibre include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
Insoluble fibre, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibres include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Here’s just a few ways fibre works for your health:
Whole grains have other digestive benefits as well. The fibre content in whole grains keeps bowel movements regular and it helps ward off diverticulosis, the condition in which little pouches form in the colon wall, causing inflammation, diarrhea, and pain. Whole grains also contain lactic acid, which promotes “good bacteria” in the large intestine. These bacteria improve digestion, promote nutrition absorption, and strengthen a body’s immune system.
2. Reduce risk of heart diseases
Whole grains not only help prevent your body from absorbing “bad” cholesterol, they also lower triglycerides, both of which are major contributors to heart disease. Whole grains lower the risk of heart disease overall. One study shows that women who eat 2-3 servings of whole grain products daily are 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease compared with women who ate less than one serving a week.
3. Lower blood pressure
The heart benefits of whole grains don’t stop with cholesterol and triglycerides. They also lower blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease. One study has found 19% lower risk of hypertension among men who ate more than 7 servings of whole grain breakfast cereal a week compared with those who eat one or less. A study of women also found similar benefits.
4. Control weight
People who eat a lot of whole grains are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and less likely to gain weight over time than those who eat refined grains. In one study, women who consumed the most wheat germ, brown rice, dark bread, popcorn, and other whole grains had a 49% lower risk of “major weight gain” over time in comparison with women who consumed more doughnuts and white bread. Over a period of 12 years, middle-aged men and women who ate a diet high in fibre gained 3.35 pounds less than those who went for refined products.
5. Redistribute fat
Even if eating whole grains doesn’t actually make you lose weight directly, studies have shown that including whole grains as a major part of your diet can help you cut down on the amount of body fat you have and lead to a healthier distribution of that fat. Specifically, eating whole grains can leave you with less belly fat or what scientists call “central adiposity”. A massive amount of belly fat increases your risk of diabetes and other health woes.
6. Make your feel full
One way whole grains may help you control your weight is by making you feel fuller than refined grains such as cookies or white bread. According to Gans, the author of the book, The Small Change Diet, “[whole grains take longer to digest and have a more satiating effect.” This helps keep your portions under control while maximizing the fullness.
7. Regulate blood sugar
One of the main benefits of whole grains is that they help keep your blood glucose from spiking, which can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, among other things. Women in one study who ate 2-3 servings of whole grains a day had a 30% lower risk of diabetes than women who ate little or no whole grain products. One analysis also found a 32% lower risk of diabetes in people who ate 3 or more servings a day of whole grains versus a 5% risk reduction in those who ate refined grains. Eating whole grains has been proven to produce a positive effect against type 2 diabetes, so they are a brilliant choice for people with pre-diabetes or high risk of diabetes.
8. Provide vitamin C
As with calcium, whole grains aren’t your first go-to source for vitamin C, but you can get some of your recommended daily nutrition from the whole grain known as amaranth. This grain, originating in Mexico and Peru, is also high in other vitamins and minerals including and packs a lot of protein, keeping you full longer. As for other sources of vitamin C, you can eat cantaloupe, citrus fruits, broccoli, and tomatoes.