More than likely, you've heard that you should incorporate wholegrains into your diet. What exactly do they do for you though? And why should you include them in a healthy balanced diet?
Want to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke?
People who regularly eat wholegrains have around a 30% lower risk. You might have heard of 'statins' - medication which lower blood cholesterol. Just 4 servings of wholegrains can give the same effects. It goes without saying though, never adjust your medication without approval from your GP.
It's interesting though that health-giving properties are found in wholegrains.
Wholegrains provide both insoluble and soluble fibre
Insoluble fibre helps keep your digestive system healthy and keeps things moving along. Keeping your intake high will lower your risk of bowel cancer.
Soluble fibre, on the other hand, lowers blood cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease. You can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol by adding 3g of soluble fibre to your daily diet.
A large study (330,000 adults) conducted more than 15 years ago found the following:
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Every 10g of fibre consumed daily cuts your risk of death by heart disease by 25%
You can meet this need with just 3 slices of wholemeal bread each day. In fact, the US dietary guidelines recommend a minimum of 3 servings of wholegrains daily.
Wholegrains help lower the risk of colon cancer
Wholegrains contain phytic acid. Phytic acid decreases the rate at which cancer cells spread. It also serves to enhances the immune system, acting as a natural antioxidant.
You'll consume many phytonutrients, important for illness prevention
For example, wheat contains lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin. These are potent antioxidants.
Wholegrains are good sources of vitamins and minerals
To name just a few:
Iron, useful in transporting oxygen to muscle cells
Zinc, important for making new cells, healing and fighting infection
Vitamin E, which strengthens the immune system
Selenium, another powerful antioxidant which helps mop up free radicals.
When they’re good
Aim for at least three portions of wholegrains daily, although more is often better. These can include wholewheat bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, millet, barley, quinoa, rye and corn.
It's important you look for ‘wholemeal’ or ‘wholegrain’ on the label. Other terms like ‘Wheatgerm’ or ‘brown’ do not mean wholegrain. These products are usually refined versions with wheatgerm or bran added.