Whole grains are cereal grains that contain bran and germ as well as the endosperm, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.
A slice of commercially prepared white bread has 66 calories, 1.9 grams protein and 0.6 grams fiber. A slice of whole-wheat bread has 69 calories and provides 3.6 grams protein and 1.9 grams fiber. It isn’t hard to see which one is the better nutritional bet.
Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases.
The main benefits of whole grains are:
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
Health Effects of Whole Grains
Research demonstrates an association between consuming whole grains as part of a low-fat diet and a reduced risk of heart disease. Studies have consistently found that individuals with three or more servings of whole grain foods per day have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease compared to individuals with lower intakes of whole grains
Whole grains appear to be associated with a reduced risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers as well as several hormone-dependent cancers. A review of 40 studies on gastrointestinal cancers found a 21 to 43 percent lower cancer risk with high intake of whole grains compared to low intakes.
Components of whole grains, including fiber, resistant starch, and oligosaccharides play roles in supporting gastrointestinal health. The effect of promoting normal intestinal regularity makes whole- and high-fiber grain products integral components of diet plans to help alleviate constipation and decrease the risk of developing diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
Whole grains and fiber help in reducing the risk of diabetes and maintenance of blood glucose levels.
The mechanisms by which whole grains may support weight management include enhanced satiety to lower energy intake, prolonged gastric emptying to delay the return of hunger, and increased insulin sensitivity to lower insulin demand.
Whole grains contain many healthful components, including dietary fiber, starch, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, lignans, and phenolic compounds, that have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. Since most of the health-promoting components are found in the germ and bran, foods made with whole grains can play an important role in maintaining good health. When an adequate amount of whole grains are included in a healthful diet, there also is room for enriched grain food choices. Eating more whole grains involves making relatively easy changes in grain food selections. With awareness and education, along with increased availability of easy-to-identify whole-grain products, consumers can increase their intake of whole grains to recommended levels