Whole grains are cereal grains that contain the bran, endosperm and germ. These three layers comprise the important nutritional contents of whole grain cereals. Bran is the outermost layer of the grain, the endosperm is the main portion of the grain and the germ is the smallest part of the grain. The examples of whole grains include barley, oat, wheat, rice, millet, corn and rye etc.
Characteristics of whole grains
Whole grains are a rich source of many nutrients including vitamins, dietary fiber and minerals. The major characteristics of whole grains are as follows:
• They are a source of carbohydrates as well as protein.
• They are a good source of many minerals.
• They contain some amount of phytochemicals and antioxidants that can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
• They have low saturated fat, and are a source of polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 linolenic acid.
• They are cholesterol-free.
• They have high soluble and insoluble fiber.
Health Benefits of Whole grains
There are many health benefits of eating whole grains. Some of them are as follows.
• Whole grains reduce the risk of developing heart diseases
Eating whole grain food products are associated with protective effects against heart diseases. High intake of whole grains (at least 2.5 serves per day) is associated with 21% lower danger of cardiovascular diseases. Regularly eating cereals that are rich in soluble fiber has been found to reduce the blood cholesterol level and hence reducing heart diseases.
• Whole grains reduce the risk of colon cancer
Diets that include sufficient amount of whole grains are linked with reduced risk of colon cancer. Studies show that eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables lower the risk of certain types of cancer.
• Whole grains lower the risk of developing diabetes
Intake of whole grains in food reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies show that people who consume more whole grains have improved insulin resistance and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
• Whole grains reduce the risk of obesity
Whole grains naturally contain low saturated fat and good polyunsaturated fatty acids. In this way they help to reduce weight.
• Whole grains reduce the risk of gut diseases
Whole grain cereal products increase the movement of food in the gastrointestinal track. It provides a safe environment for beneficial bacteria and reducing levels of harmful bacteria and therefore, helps prevent gut diseases.