Whole Grains Reduce Inflammation and 4 More Things You Need to Know

April 01, 2015

Why should you consider adding whole grains to your diet today?

Whole grains, or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. This means that 100% of the original kernel, all of the bran, germ, and endosperm, must be present to qualify as a whole grain. Find out here why all of this matters, and why you should consider adding whole grains to your diet today.

What’s so special about whole grains? They provide fiber, vitamin E, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. The outer skin of the seed contains B vitamins, antioxidants and fiber-rich bran; the germ holds the protein, minerals and healthy fats; and the endosperm contains protein, carbohydrates and smaller quantities of vitamins and minerals. The bran and germ contain 25 percent of the protein in whole grains and the majority of the nutrients. When highly processed, these valuable nutrients and proteins are lost - not to mention healthful fiber.

What foods contain whole grains? Whole grains include whole or cracked wheat, corn, cornmeal, popcorn, brown and colored rice, oatmeal and whole oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt and whole rye. Other examples are, grains and flours made from the following: amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, emmer, farro, grano (lightly pearled wheat), millet, triticale, wheat berries and wild rice (which looks like a rice but is actually a different kind of grain, more akin to a grass).

How much should we be eating? Dietary guidelines suggest we get at least three servings about ½ cup, of whole grains a day. Research has shown that this amount can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and digestive system cancers.

Whole grains help balance blood sugar! Whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion. Fiber also is thought to contribute to whole grain’s blood sugar supporting role. 

Whole grains are high in betaine, especially whole wheat, and those with a higher level of this compound have levels of inflammatory markers (like homocysteine and c-reactive protein) at least 20 percent lower than subjects with the lowest average intakes. Working to lower inflammation should be a primary health goal, as many health professionals now believe that inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases.

Curious about the whole grain stamp?  In terms of products with the Whole Grains Stamp, here’s how to determine what’s inside.  There are two different varieties of the Stamp: 100% Stamp: all its grain ingredients are whole grains. There is a minimum requirement of 16 grams (a full serving) of whole grain per labeled serving. Basic Stamp: contains at least 8 grams (a half serving) of whole grain, but may also contain some refined grain. Even if a product contains large amounts of whole grain (ex 25 grams), it will use the Basic Stamp if it also contains extra bran, germ, or refined flour. 

Whole Grains Council
Wh Foods