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 (3, 4).
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.