When the term whole grains is mentioned, what might immediately come to mind are foods such as whole wheat and brown rice. These foods are called whole grains because in contrast with processed or refined grains, whole grains have the germ, endosperm and bran. Another significant distinction between whole grains and refined grains is that the former can sprout and grow. The American Heart Association recommends 6 servings of whole grains daily in order to lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Regularly eating this amount of whole grain servings also provides the appropriate amount of calories you need while decreasing your risk for other diseases.
Whole Grains for Energy
Whole grains are rich in carbohydrates, which the body requires for energy. However, you might be wondering why you need to eat so many servings. This is because your body actually consumes calories when it breaks down food. This energy cost is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). Therefore, when you eat more frequently during the day, you burn more calories because of TEF. When you eat more frequently, you also avoid overeating when you get hungry. Remember though that this is only true if you are eating the right foods like whole grains.
Whole Grains for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Regular consumption of whole grains decreases the risk for hypertension and can even help control this disease. Note that hypertension is a major cause of cardiovascular complications such as heart attack and stroke. It has been proven that eating whole cereals daily for breakfast can reduce your risk for heart disease by as much as 29 percent. Daily whole grain consumption decreases the incidence of obesity and diabetes, which are also risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, nothing can beat whole grains as components of a meal targeting reduction of cardiovascular risk.
Whole Grains for Diabetes Prevention
Although whole grains provide carbohydrates, they are actually associated with reduced fasting insulin concentrations, reduced post-meal (postprandial) blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity. One reason for this is that whole grains have low glycemic indices (GI). Because of the low GI of whole grains, you'll feel full longer, preventing feelings of craving and deprivation that usually lead to overeating.
This is good news for you if you are a diabetic or a pre-diabetic. If you have impaired fasting glucose or you have increased levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) due to insulin resistance, then regular whole grain consumption six times a day would definitely reduce your risk for type II diabetes. You can decrease your risk for type II diabetes by simply replacing your daily servings of white rice with whole grains.
Whole Grains and Digestion Benefits
Because of their high-fiber contents, regular consumption of whole grains can help clean out the colon. It can speed up the transit time of your food through the intestines, thereby preventing constipation. It protects against the formation of gallstones because of the decreased secretion of bile acids. Furthermore, frequent consumption of whole grains can reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.