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.

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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.

7 Important Benefits Of Black Beans

The health benefits of black beans include the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. Consuming black beans can also aid in digestion and the regulation of the body’s blood sugar levels. Black beans can be beneficial for various nervous system functions, can reduce the chances of birth defects, neutralize the negative effects of sulfites, and even prevent impotence in men.

What are Black Beans?

Black turtle beans, more commonly known as black beans, are shiny, black members of the bean family Phaseolus vulgaris. [1] They are most commonly found in and have been popularized by Latin American cuisine, and are known by many names in various cultures throughout South and Central America. There are six main types of black turtle beans, with relatively similar appearances and nutritional values.

Although they have been cultivated and cooked for thousands of years in South America, black beans did not cross the Atlanticuntil the 1500s in the boats of European explorers.

The general form of black beans can be changed without losing the nutritional benefits, although some may be lost when they are made into soups or when ground up and exposed to high temperatures. The widespread growth and low cost are what initially made black beans a cultural staple in South America. However, as more information is being gained about the health benefits of black beans, more people are including them in their diet.

One popular preparation technique is to soak black beans in water before cooking or eating them. [2] Studies have shown that by allowing the beans to soak in water, certain phytates and tannins are removed, which lowers the nutrient availability, and the beans also retain beneficial resistant starch while losing some of the total carbohydrate content. In some parts of the world, beans are given an independent box in the Food Pyramid, because they are such a vital part of those cultural diets.

They are very popular among vegetarians because when they are combined with brown rice, a complete protein meal is formed. [3] A common problem in vegetarian diets is acquiring proper amounts of protein, so black beans and brown rice can be a simple and inexpensive solution.

Nutritional Value of Black Beans

Black beans are very high in fiber, protein, and vitamins like vitamin A. They also contain calciumiron, and manganese. Black beans also have high levels of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanin, which have antioxidant abilities. They also contain omega-3 fatty acid, which is considered a good form of cholesterol.

Black beans are a great source of folic acid and have abnormally high levels of the rare compound molybdenum, which is very difficult to find in any other food.

Health Benefits of Black Beans

Adding black beans to your diet will provide you with many nutrients and help prevent various health conditions. Let us look at the benefits in detail below:

Improve Heart Health

One of the best benefits of adding black beans to your daily or weekly diet is the high level of fiber that they contain. They have high concentrations of soluble fiber, which has been proven to help lower blood cholesterol levels. [4] Soluble fiber attracts water and turns into a gel during digestion, whereas insoluble fiber adds mass to food and helps it pass through the digestive system faster. Lowering blood cholesterol can reduce thickening of the artery walls, which in turn can prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Black beans also have small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good forms of cholesterol that balance the negative effects of omega-6 fatty acids, which are the bad form of cholesterol. [5] They have anti-hypertensive effects, which means that they can improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and put less strain or oxidative stress on the cardiovascular system.

Prevent Cancer

Black beans have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers due to the flavonoids found in their seed coat. [6]There are eight different flavonoids that have been found in the seed coat, and three of them are anthocyanins. Flavonoids are basically color-producing phytonutrient pigments that function as antioxidants in the body to fight disease and free radicals.

Anthocyanins are great for preventing cancer. They can effectively inhibit blood vessel growth to cancerous tumors, slowing the growth of cancerous cells and increasing the speed of apoptosis (cell death) within cancer cells. The anthocyanins, along with all the other phytonutrients found on the seed coat, make black beans a very powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.

Relieve Digestive Issues

Black beans are great for treating digestive issues because they contain high levels of protein and fiber, making them a “superfood”. [7] Protein and fiber help food move through the digestive tract, allowing it to eliminate waste in a healthy way. They are also digested slower than meat, which has a similar protein content, so eating beans can leave you satisfied for longer.

Black beans are also smaller in size than other beans, because of which people find them easier to digest. Over time, with a regular addition of black beans to the diet, the soluble fiber content will absorb water into your stool, which can reduce constipation. [8]

Control Blood Sugar

Uneven digestive rates can cause unbalanced blood sugar levels in the body and black beans regulate this issue as well. [9] As mentioned above, the fiber and protein in black beans keep digestion at a steady rate, so concentrated doses of nutrient uptake do not occur. Rather, a steady absorption of nutrients occurs throughout the digestive process. When digestion is unsteady, spikes or crashes in blood sugar can occur, which are dangerous and even fatal to patients with diabetes or similar blood sugar-related conditions.blackbeansinfo

Treat Sexual Dysfunction

Studies have shown that black beans are extremely high in molybdenum, a rare mineral not found frequently in foods. Molybdenum is important for a number of reasons, primarily because it can break down and detoxify sulfites. [10] Sulfites are acidic compounds found in wines, dried fruits, and some vegetables, and many people are very sensitive to their effects, which include a headache and disorientation. The molybdenum found in black beans counteracts these effects, neutralizing the negative effects so people can enjoy those foods again. Molybdenum also helps in cell energy production and development of nervous system. [11]

Also, molybdenum has been shown to reduce impotence and erectile dysfunction in older men when regularly consumed. [12] This rare vitamin has regularly been linked to increased energy and interest in sexual activity in older men.

Boost Nervous System

Black beans can also improve the functioning of the nervous system by helping provide the necessary amino acids and molybdenum. [13] They contain high amounts of vitamin B9 or folate. Folate, also known as folic acid, plays a key part in the regulation of specific amino acids required by the nervous system. Studies have shown that the deficiency of dietary folate leads to an increase in homocysteine levels, which can be a dangerous precursor to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Regularly adding black beans to your diet can provide the necessary folate content to levels in your body and reduce the risk of such diseases.

Improve Pre-Natal Health

Another benefit of folate, which is found in such high levels within black beans, is its role in protecting infants in the womb. The folate levels in a woman’s body are integral to the normal and healthy development of the fetus, particularly its brain and spinalcord. [14] Thus, black beans are highly recommended for pregnant women.

Side Effects of Black Beans

Phytic Acid: Beans have natural seed coats that protect their nutritious contents from predators and insects while growing in nature. One of the components of that seed coat is phytic acid, which protects the seed from premature germination. [15] If the phytic acid is not removed from the bean before eating, it can bind to common minerals like calciummagnesium, and copper, preventing them from being absorbed as nutrients in the body. These unabsorbed minerals can build up and cause different conditions, from small irritations like digestive irritability to more serious issues like hormonal disruption and impaired brain function. Basically, cook your beans, and make sure they are soaked in water to neutralize the harmful effects of phytic acid!

Oligosaccharides: Black beans contain a complex sugar called oligosaccharides, and the human body does not produce any enzyme that would naturally break that sugar down. [2] Therefore, oligosaccharides ferment in the digestive system and begin to produce methane, which is released from the body in unpleasant ways. Again, soaking the beans in water and making sure that they are cooked can greatly reduce a number of oligosaccharides in the beans, along with reducing all of the other organicparts of beans that are difficult to digest.

Organic Rice, Grains & Beans is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Organic Facts