Why is it important to eat whole grains?

Do we really need whole grains?

MyPyramid.gov states that half of our grains should be whole grains, but have you ever wondered why?

Michigan State University Extension says that when we eat whole grains in a healthy diet, we can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, grains are also vital for the health and maintenance of our bodies. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, colo-rectal cancer and constipation. Eating at least three ounces per day can also help with weight management as they us feel full for longer. During pregnancy, folate is very important in preventing defects in fetal development and fortified grains are loaded with folate and other vitamins and minerals.

Fiber - Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol in our blood and could lower the risk of heart disease. It helps to keep our bowels functioning which leads to less constipation and diverticulitis, which could lead to a lower risk of colon cancer. Weight management is easier when we feel full and fiber keeps us feeling full for longer, while consuming fewer calories. Check the labels on your grains to see just how much fiber is in a serving. It may surprise you to see a “whole wheat” bread with only one gram of fiber.

Vitamins - Vitamins are important for our metabolism and nervous systems. They help our bodies get energy from the protein, fat and carbohydrates we eat. Many of the refined grains are enriched with these vitamins.

Folic Acid - Folic Acid (folate) is another B vitamin that helps to form our red blood cells. It is vital that women of child bearing years get enough folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects, including spina bifida. It’s important to eat a balanced diet rich in foods that contain folate.

Iron - Iron carries oxygen in the blood and people who don’t get enough iron in their diets can end up with iron-deficiency anemia. Many young women in their childbearing years are anemic. They should eat foods that are high in iron and Vitamin C, which helps the absorption of iron. Whole and enriched refined grains are great sources of iron in our diets.

Minerals - Whole grains are rich sources of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium is used in building strong bones and the release of energy from muscles. Selenium is important to a healthy immune system and protects cells from oxidation (aging).

Now that you know how good whole grains are for you well-being, I hope you choose to put more into your diet. Experiment with them, you may be surprised how delicious they are!

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