What are whole grains?

Whole grains are grains that contain all the parts and nutrients found in the seeds of these grains in their original proportions, such as the outer layer of bran rich in fiber, the endosperm of the seed rich in carbohydrates, which constitutes the largest part of the grain itself, in addition to the inner kernel or embryo rich in vitamins, proteins, and healthy fats. This means that even when whole grains are processed by grinding, cracking, or cooking, they still provide a nutritional product that contains the same nutrients in the same proportions as the seeds of the original grain. Whole grains offer a huge amount of health benefits, unlike refined grains, which lose most of their valuable nutrients during the refining process.

The benefits of whole grains

1- Whole grains are rich in nutritional values ​​and nutrients

Whole grains provide many important nutrients such as vitamins, especially B vitamins, niacin, thiamine, and folate, minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese, and antioxidants such as phytic acid, ferulic acid, and sulfur compounds. In addition to proteins, whole grains contain several grams of protein per serving, and provide many types of plant compounds that play a role in disease prevention, such as polyphenols, stanols, and sterols.

2- Whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease

One of the biggest health benefits of whole grains is that they reduce the risk of heart disease. Replacing refined grains with whole grains in the diet significantly reduces cholesterol, total fat, triglyceride, and insulin levels, all of which are beneficial for cardiovascular health.

3- Whole grains reduce the risk of stroke

Whole grains may also help reduce the risk of stroke thanks to some of the compounds found in whole grains, such as fiber, vitamin K and antioxidants.

4- Whole grains help lose weight

Whole grains have many benefits that help lose weight, as they increase the metabolism in the body, contribute to reducing the percentage of fat in the body, and feeling full for a longer period because they contain dietary fiber, which reduces the number of calories eaten during the day.

5- Whole grains reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

Including whole grains in the diet at least two servings per day can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as whole grains contain a range of fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals. Whole grains help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, and slow down the process of food absorption, which prevents a spike in blood sugar. This is unlike refined grains, which increase the glycemic index because they contain less fiber and nutrients.

6- Whole grains promote digestive health

Whole grains contain a large amount of dietary fiber, which helps prevent constipation, which is one of the most common digestive problems. Also, some types of fiber in grains act as prebiotics. This means that they help form food for beneficial gut bacteria, which are important for a healthy digestive system.

7- Whole grains reduce chronic inflammation

Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases. And some evidence suggests that whole grains can help reduce inflammation. In one study, women who ate the most whole grains were less likely to die from chronic diseases related to inflammation. A study also showed that whole grains can have a protective effect against cancer, as eating whole grains can help provide simple protection against colorectal cancer.

Examples of whole grains

  • barley
  • brown rice
  • black wheat
  • quinoa
  • Bulgur (crushed wheat)
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • Whole grain bread, pasta or crackers

How to introduce whole grains into the diet

On the day it is recommended to consume about 6-8 servings of cereals (bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal). Try to have at least half of that amount contain whole grains instead of regular. You can incorporate whole grains into your diet in several ways. Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to use them as replacements for refined grains in your diet. Try the following tips for adding more whole grains to your meals and snacks:

  • Have a breakfast that contains whole grains, such as whole-wheat bran flakes, cracked wheat or oatmeal.
  • Replace regular bread with whole-grain bread, and pastries with low-fat whole-grain muffins such as oatmeal or others.
  •  Make sandwiches and sandwiches using whole-grain bread or rolls.
  • Replace the white flour tortillas with whole wheat products.
  • Replace white rice with quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley, or bulgur.
  • Add barley to soups and stews.
  • Add whole grains, such as wholegrain breadcrumbs, to ground beef or chicken to increase portions.
  • Use oatmeal or crushed whole wheat bran in recipes instead of dry bread.