Whole grains are one of the Four Food Groups that comprise a plant-based diet. They are both healthy and delicious. The information on this page aims at helping you understand whole grains.
What are whole grains, exactly?
Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.
This definition means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain.”
Whole grain products stand in contrast to refined and/or enriched products such as white flour, white rice and regular pasta. And labels can be misleading — labels are advertising, and manufacturers want to pass their products off as being healthy, so the label might say whole wheat but not BE whole grain, so Read the Ingredients, as so aptly (and repeatedly) stated by Ann Esselstyn in her section of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. If the ingredients list says enriched whole wheat flour, that is NOT whole grain. Look for whole grain breads and cereal, whole grain pastas, whole grain tortillas, etc. (also with no eggs, no oil — but that is a different subject).
Why are whole grains good for you?
Studies show that eating whole grains as opposed to refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps!
The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
stroke risk reduced 30-36%
type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
better weight maintenance
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
reduced risk of asthma
healthier carotid arteries
reduction of inflammatory disease risk
lower risk of colorectal cancer
healthier blood pressure levels
less gum disease and tooth loss
Numerous studies recent and historical evidence the health benefits of whole grains.
Information on whole grains drawn from Whole Grain Council.