9 Health Benefits of Eating Whole Grains

Whole grains have been a part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years (1).

But proponents of many modern diets, such as the paleo diet, claim that eating grains is bad for your health.

While a high intake of refined grains is linked to health problems like obesity and inflammation, whole grains are a different story.

In fact, eating whole grains is associated with various benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Here are the top 9 health benefits of eating whole grains.

Benefits of Whole GrainsShare on Pinterest
What are whole grains?

Grains are the seeds of grass-like plants called cereals. Some of the most common varieties are corn, rice, and wheat.

Some seeds of non-grass plants, or pseudocereals, are also considered whole grains, including buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth.

Whole-grain kernels have three parts (2):

  • Bran. This is the hard, outer shell. It contains fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Endosperm. The middle layer of the grain is mostly made up of carbs.
  • Germ. This inner layer has vitamins, minerals, protein, and plant compounds.

Grains can be rolled, crushed, or cracked. Nonetheless, as long as these three parts are present in their original proportion, they’re considered whole grains.

Refined grains have had the germ and bran removed, leaving only the endosperm.

Though enriched refined grains have had some vitamins and minerals added back, they’re still not as healthy or nutritious as the whole versions.

Common varieties of whole grains include:

  • oatmeal
  • popcorn
  • millet
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • whole rye
  • wild rice
  • wheat berry
  • bulgur
  • buckwheat
  • freekeh
  • barley
  • sorghum

Products made from these foods are considered whole grain. These include certain types of bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals.

When you purchase processed whole-grain products, read the ingredient list to make sure they’re made entirely from whole grains, not a mixture of whole and refined grains.

Also, keep an eye on the sugar content, especially in the case of breakfast cereals, which are often loaded with added sugar. Seeing “whole grain” on the packaging does not automatically mean that the product is healthy.

SUMMARYWhole grains contain all three parts of the grain. There are many different kinds, including whole wheat and whole corn, oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

1. High in nutrients and fiber

Whole grains deliver many important nutrients. These include:

  • Fiber. The bran provides most of the fiber in whole grains.
  • Vitamins. Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins, including niacin, thiamine, and folate (34).
  • Minerals. They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Protein. Whole grains boast several grams of protein per serving.
  • Antioxidants. Many compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants. These include phytic acid, lignans, ferulic acid, and sulfur compounds (5).
  • Plant compounds. Whole grains deliver many types of plant compounds that play a role in preventing disease. These include polyphenols, stanols, and sterols (6).

The exact amounts of these nutrients depend on the type of grain.

Nevertheless, to give you a sense of their nutritional profile, here are the key nutrients in 1 ounce (28 grams) of dry oats (4):

  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Manganese: 69% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Phosphorous: 15% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 14% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 12% of the RDI
  • Copper: 9% of the RDI
  • Zinc and iron: 7% of the RDI

SUMMARYWhole grains deliver a variety of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other healthy plant compounds.

2. Lower your risk of heart disease

One of the biggest health benefits of whole grains is that they lower your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide (7).

A review of 10 studies found that three 1-ounce (28-gram) servings of whole grains daily may lower your risk of heart disease by 22% (8).

Similarly, a 10-year study in 17,424 adults observed that those who ate the highest proportion of whole grains in relation to their total carb intake had a 47% lower risk of heart disease (9).

Researchers concluded that heart-healthy diets should include more whole grains and fewer refined grains.

Most studies lump together different types of whole grains, making it hard to separate the benefits of individual foods.

Still, whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as added bran, have been specifically linked to reduced heart disease risk (8).

SUMMARYEating whole grains may lower your risk of heart disease, especially when they replace refined grains.

3. Lower your risk of stroke

Whole grains may also help lower your risk of stroke (10).

In an analysis of 6 studies in nearly 250,000 people, those eating the most whole grains had a 14% lower risk of stroke than those eating the fewest (10).

Furthermore, certain compounds in whole grains, such as fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants, can reduce your risk of stroke.

Whole grains are also recommended in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, both of which may help lower your risk of stroke (11).

SUMMARYAs part of a heart-healthy diet, whole grains may help lower your risk of stroke.

4. Reduce your risk of obesity

Eating fiber-rich foods can help fill you up and prevent overeating. This is one reason high-fiber diets are recommended for weight loss (5).

Whole grains and products made from them are more filling than refined grains, and research suggests that they may lower your risk of obesity.

In fact, eating 3 servings of whole grains daily was linked to lower body mass index (BMI) and less belly fat in a review of 15 studies in almost 120,000 people (12).

Another study reviewing research from 1965 to 2010 found that whole-grain cereal and cereal with added bran were associated with a modestly lower risk of obesity (13).

SUMMARYDecades of research suggest that whole grains are linked to a lower risk of obesity.

5. Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

Eating whole in place of refined grains may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes (14).

A review of 16 studies concluded that replacing refined grains with whole varieties and eating at least 2 servings of whole grains daily could lower your risk of diabetes (15).

In part, this is because fiber-rich whole grains can also help with weight control and prevent obesity, a risk factor for diabetes (16).

Moreover, studies have linked whole grain intake to lower fasting blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity (17).

This could be due to magnesium, a mineral found in whole grains that helps your body metabolize carbs and is tied to insulin sensitivity (16).

SUMMARYFiber and magnesium are two nutrients in whole grains that help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

6. Support healthy digestion

The fiber in whole grains can support healthy digestion in various ways.

First, fiber helps give bulk to stools and lowers your risk of constipation.

Second, some types of fiber in grains act as prebiotics. This means they help feed your beneficial gut bacteria, which are important for digestive health (518).

SUMMARYDue to their fiber content, whole grains help support healthy digestion by giving bulk to stools and feeding your beneficial gut bacteria.

7. Reduce chronic inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases.

Some evidence suggests that whole grains can help reduce inflammation (19).

In one study, women who ate the most whole grains were least likely to die from inflammation-related chronic conditions (20).

What’s more, in a recent study, people with unhealthy diets replaced refined wheat products with whole wheat products and saw a reduction in inflammatory markers (21).

The results of these and other studies support public health recommendations to replace most refined grains with whole grains (22).

SUMMARYEating whole grains regularly could help lower inflammation, a key factor in many chronic diseases.

8. May reduce your risk of cancer

Research on whole grains and cancer risk have provided mixed results, though they show promise.

In one review of 20 studies, 6 showed a reduced risk of cancer, while 14 indicated no link (23).

Current research suggests that whole grains’ strongest anticancer benefits are against colorectal cancer, one of the most common types of cancer (2425).

Additionally, some health benefits linked to fiber may help lower your risk of cancer. These include its role as a prebiotic (242627).

Lastly, other components of whole grains, including phytic acid, phenolic acids, and saponins, may slow the development of cancer (24).

SUMMARYWhole grains may help prevent colorectal cancer, one of the most common types of cancer. Still, research on whole grains’ anticancer effects is mixed.

9. Linked to a reduced risk of premature death

When your risk of chronic disease is reduced, your risk of dying prematurely also goes down.

In fact, one study suggested that whole grain intake specifically lowered the risk of dying from heart disease, as well as any other cause (28).

The study used data from two large cohort studies, adjusting for other factors likely to influence death rates, such as smoking, body weight, and overall eating patterns.

Results indicated that every 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of whole grains was linked to a 5% lower risk of death (28).

SUMMARYWhole grains are linked to a lower risk of dying prematurely from any cause.

Whole grains are not for everyone

While whole grains are healthy for most people, they may not be appropriate for all people at all times.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity

Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten, a type of protein that some people are intolerant or allergic to.

Having a gluten allergy, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, indigestion, and joint pain.

Gluten-free whole grains, including buckwheat, rice, oats, and amaranth, are fine for most people with these conditions.

However, some have difficulty tolerating any type of grain and experience digestive distress and other symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Some grains, such as wheat, are high in short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. These can cause symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is very common.

SUMMARYSome people have difficulty tolerating grains. The most well-known issue is gluten, which affects people with gluten allergy, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity.

How to incorporate whole grains into your diet

You can incorporate whole grains into your diet in many ways.

Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to find whole-grain alternatives to refined grains in your diet.

For instance, if white pasta is a staple in your pantry, replace it with a 100% whole-wheat or other whole-grain pasta. Do the same for breads and cereals.

Be sure to read the ingredient list to see if a product is made from whole grains.

Look for the word “whole” in front of types of grains. If it simply says “wheat” instead of “whole wheat,” it’s not whole.

You can also experiment with new whole grains that you may not have tried before, such as quinoa.

Here are some ideas for adding whole grains to your diet:

  • Make a cooked porridge out of oatmeal or other grains.
  • Sprinkle toasted buckwheat groats on cereal or yogurt.
  • Snack on air-popped popcorn.
  • Make polenta out of whole-grain cornmeal.
  • Swap out white rice with brown rice, or for a different whole grain like quinoa or farro.
  • Add barley to vegetable soups.
  • Try using whole-grain flours, such as whole-wheat pastry flour, in baking.
  • Use stone-ground corn tortillas rather than white tortillas in tacos.

SUMMARYThere are many ways to work whole grains into your diet. Replacing refined grains with whole grains is a good place to start.

The bottom line

Whole grains deliver a variety of health benefits.

Regularly eating whole grains may reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. This is particularly true when they replace the refined grains in your diet.

High-fiber foods like whole grains also significantly improve your digestive health, though people with gluten intolerance must avoid wheat, barley, and rye.

For improved health and longevity, consider adding whole grains to your diet every day. Healthy, whole-grain breakfast cereals, such as steel-cut oatmeal, are a popular choice.

Organic Grain is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Health Line

11 Interesting Benefits Of Lentils

The health benefits of lentils include improved digestion, a healthy heartdiabetes control, cancermanagement, weight loss, prevention of anemia, and better electrolytic activity due to potassium. They are a good source of protein and are great for pregnant women. They aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis and in maintaining a healthy nervous system.

What are Lentils?

Lentils are edible pulses or seeds that belong to the legume family. These mostly consist of two halves covered in a husk. Both the seeds are lens-shaped, which is probably why they are named Lens culinaris in Latin. They are also one of the oldest known sources of food, dating back more than 9,000 years.

Lentils can be consumed with or without the husk. Prior to the invention of milling machines, they were eaten with the husk. The husk contains the highest amount of dietary fiber. After the milling process was invented, the husk or skin was removed and the dietary fiber in lentils disappeared.

The popular kinds of lentils include black lentils, red lentils, brown lentils, mung bean, yellow split peas, yellow lentils, macachiados lentils, French green lentils, black-eyed pea, kidney beans, soya beans, and many more varieties. Each country has its own group, which is more or less similar and provides the same benefits.

Lentils with a high protein content are considered an inexpensive source of protein. They are a rich source of essential amino acids like isoleucine and lysine. They are also a good source of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. [1]

Lentils are consumed much more often in Asian countries, particularly India. India has the largest number of vegetarians and lentils can be a substitute for meat in supplying the required protein. One very good way to have lentils is after they have sprouted because they contain methionine and cysteine. These two amino acids are very significant in muscle-building and strengthening of our body. Methionine is an essential amino acid that is supplied through the food, and cysteine is a non-essential amino acid that can then be synthesized.

9 different types of lentils on a white background

Nutritional Value of Lentils

Lentils contain the highest amount of protein originating from any plant. The amount of protein found in them is up to 35%, which is comparable to red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. As per the USDA, raw lentils contain carbohydrates (15-25 grams per 100 grams). [2]They are a good source of dietary fiber and also have a low amount of calories. Other nutritious components found are molybdenum, folate, tryptophan, manganeseironphosphoruscoppervitamin B1, and potassium.

Lentils are also another source of phytochemicals and phenols. Both of these organic chemicals are known to provide health benefits, but the mechanism behind their work is yet to be determined. Often, lentils and meat are compared for their effectiveness and many people vote for meat as the best source of protein. It is true that lentils do not contain all the amino acids, but they do have less fat content when compared with meat.

Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils, cultivated ever since the advent of early agriculture, have been a part of our diet for quite long now. They provide multiple health benefits, including the following:

Muscle Generation

Our organs and muscles need a constant supply of protein for repair and growth of the body. Lentils, especially sprouted lentils, contain all the essential amino acids that are needed by our body for good muscle-building and smooth functioning of the body.

Control Diabetes

A comparative study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that in the various categories of foods, dietary fiber was found to be high in case of the legume family. [3] Lentils, along with beans and peas, belong to the legume family. Dietary fiber filled food such as lentils help in controlling blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber also slows down the rate at which food is absorbed by the blood and thus maintains the sugar level constantly.

Improve Digestion

As lentils contain high levels of dietary fiber, they improve digestion if consumed regularly. They also help in easy bowel movements, resulting in decreased constipation. Although lentils tend to cause bloating and gas, consuming soaked or sprouted lentils make it easy for you to digest them.

Benefits of Chickpeas

Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas have exploded in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. They’re the essential ingredient in beloved foods like hummus, falafel, roasted chickpeas and vegetarian curries.

Meanwhile, global demand for plant-based foods is on the rise. And as people try to find ways to eat less meat, they’re seeking out plant-based proteins that are all natural, nutrient-dense and gluten-free. The mighty chickpea checks all three of those boxes.

We know you probably have some pressing questions (Is hummus good for me, and will chickpeas give me gas?). Since I wrote a book about pulses, the umbrella term for beans, lentils, dry peas and chickpeas, I know what’s good when it comes to garbanzos. Read on to find out everything there is to know about chickpeas and ways to add some simple, healthy chickpea recipes to your arsenal.

What are chickpeas?

Chickpeas are a type of pulse, a unique category within the legume family that are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Chickpeas are actually the most widely consumed pulse in the world. They’re now grown in more than 50 countries, but were originally cultivated in the Middle East and Mediterranean (which is why many people associate them with hummus).

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy chickpeas. Chickpea flour can be used in baking or blended into smoothies. Whole chickpeas can be oven-roasted and enjoyed as a snack or added to salads, and they’re the base for Indian chana masala. Pureed chickpeas can be used to thicken soups or sauces. Meanwhile, mashed chickpeas can serve as an egg replacement in a veggie breakfast scramble, or form the base of plant-based chickpea patties.

Chickpea patties along with roasted chickpeas form the base of this hearty Mediterranean bowl.

These days, you can find a wide variety of chickpea-based desserts and treats, from chocolate-covered chickpeas and chickpea-powered protein bars to chickpea cookies, brownies and cupcakes. Mousse and meringue can also be made from aquafaba, the fluid found in canned chickpeas or the liquid left over when the dry seeds are soaked and boiled.

Is there protein in chickpeas?

One cup of canned, drained, rinsed chickpeas provides 10 grams of protein. That’s a decent amount, but it’s worth noting that this portion also supplies 34 grams of carbohydrate, with about 10 grams from dietary fiber.

When relying on chickpeas as a protein source, keep the carbs in mind. If you’re pairing them with another carb-rich food, such as quinoa, sweet potato or fruit, watch the portions to prevent carb overload.

What is the nutritional value of chickpeas?

In addition to their protein, carb and fiber content, a cup of chickpeas provides 210 caloriesand less than four grams of fat. But when it comes to chickpeas’ nutrition, they’re a true powerhouse food.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, people who regularly consume chickpeas and/or hummus have higher intakes of several key nutrients. These include fiber, vitamins A, E and C, folate, magnesium, potassium and iron.

Chickpeas are also chock-full of antioxidants. While the most common type consumed in the U.S., known as kabuli, are cream-colored, there are multiple types and hues of chickpeas. Smaller and darker desi chickpeas pack a greater antioxidant punch. You’ll find them in Indian markets or specialty-food stores.

Aquafaba, the fluid found in canned chickpeas, is a perfect substitute for eggs and egg whites in cooking and baking.

Are chickpeas good for weight loss?

Yes! Eating more chickpeas is a simple and effective weight-loss strategy. According to government data, chickpea/hummus consumers were 53 percent less likely to be obese. They also had lower BMIs and waist measurements compared to those who did not consume chickpeas or hummus.

One Australian study, published in Appetite, asked 42 volunteers to consume their usual diets, plus about three-and-a-half ounces of chickpeas daily for 12 weeks, and then return to their typical diets for a month.

The participants’ food diaries revealed that they ate less from every food group, particularly grains, during the three-month chickpea intervention. They also reported feeling more satisfied during the chickpea experiment. And in the four weeks after the study ended, their intake of processed snacks spiked.

Are chickpeas good for my health?

In addition to their ability to support weight loss, chickpeas improve gut health and help protect against heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

In one study, blood sugar levels were significantly lower 45 minutes after volunteers ate hummus with white bread, as compared to white bread alone. This suggests that hummus may be able to partially offset glucose spikes triggered by eating high glycemic index foods.

In animal research, scientists found a 65 percent reduction in precancerous lesions in rats whose diets contained 10 percent chickpea flour. Another concluded that after eight months, rats fed a high-fat diet plus chickpeas had less belly fat and improved lipid profiles as compared to rodents that ate a high-fat diet alone.

Chickpeas help promote weight loss, improve gut health and protect against heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Will chickpeas give me gas?

You may experience more gas when you first up your chickpea intake, but your body will adapt. One study from Arizona State University actually measured this using beans. Over eight weeks, 40 volunteers added either a half-cup of canned carrots daily or a half cup of beans. Within the first week, about 35 percent of the bean eaters reported an increase in flatulence. (Note: 65 percent did not!) By week two, only 19 percent reported excess gas. And the number continued to drop weekly — down to 3 percent by week eight, the same response as the carrot eaters pegged as the control group. Because chickpeas are in the same family as beans, you can expect a similar GI adjustment. If you purchase canned chickpeas, rinsing them thoroughly can also help curb bloating.

How do you cook chickpeas?

Buying canned chickpeas is A-OK, but if you want to buy them dried and cook them yourself, it’s easy. For a quick soak use three cups of cold water for each cup of chickpeas, boil for two minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand for one hour, then drain. After soaking, combine three cups water for every cup of chickpeas, bring to a quick boil, and then simmer for one-and-a-half to two hours.

Is hummus good for you?

The ingredients in premade hummus can vary widely. Some are simply made with chickpeas combined with olive oil, tahini and seasonings like garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Others, however, can be made with lower-quality oils (like soybean oil) and artificial preservatives.

When shopping for hummus, read the ingredient list first. It should read like a recipe you could have made in your own kitchen. One of my favorite brands is Hope. Its original version is made with chickpeas, water, tahini, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, spices, citric acid (to preserve freshness), garlic powder and cayenne.

clean-ingredient hummus is a healthy snack when paired with raw veggies. It can also be used as a creamy salad dressing, a thickener for soup, a mayo alternative or topping for cooked potatoes or spaghetti squash.

Chickpea pasta is gluten-free and most often higher in protein, fiber and nutrients than wheat- or semolina-based pasta.

What’s the deal with chickpea pasta?

Chickpea pasta is made with chickpea flour instead of semolina, or wheat-based flour. The formulations vary, however, so be sure to check the ingredients. Some brands bolster the protein content by adding pea protein derived from yellow split peas (another type of pulse), and others add white rice flour.

The main benefits of chickpea pasta are that it’s gluten-free and generally higher in protein, fiber and nutrients as compared to its traditional counterpart.

Are garbanzo beans chickpeas?

The terms garbanzo beans and chickpeas are used interchangeably. Garbanzo, the Spanish word for chickpea, is thought to originally come from the Basque word for chickpea, “garbantzu,” meaning dry seed.

Try some of our best chickpea recipes!

In addition to being affordable and readily available, chickpeas are also extremely versatile to cook with. If you’re new to chickpeas, try this easy recipe for oven-roasting them. As you get more experienced, test out different types of seasonings to vary the flavors. You can make savory versions or sweet, such as cinnamon or cocoa-ginger chickpeas.

For breakfast or a snack, give your avocado toast a nutritional boost by adding homemade hummus. For a filling and energizing lunch you can pack for work, toss together this chickpea salad. And if you like it spicy, check out this warm, hearty and healthy chickpea curry.

For DIY hummus that’s as beautiful as it is delicious, whip up this beet-based hummus recipe. Or if you’re more into a smoky hummus with a sizzling kick, try this chipotle version.

Did we answer every question you had about garbanzo beans, chickpeas or whatever you like to call them?