Whole Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin & folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium).
Dietary fiber from whole grains or other foods may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It also helps reduce constipation and provides a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism – they help the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. They are also essential for a healthy nervous system.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells and can reduce risk of neural tube defects during fetal development.
Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood.
Magnesium is used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles.
Selenium protects cells from oxidation and is also important for a healthy immune system.
Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel:
The Bran: Outer shell (protects seed), contains fiber, B vitamins, trace minerals
The Germ: Nourishment for the seed, contains antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins
The Endosperm: Provides energy, carbohydrates, protein
Examples of whole grains:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat cereal
- Whole-grain barley
- Whole-grain cornmeal
- Whole rye
- Whole-wheat bread
- Whole-wheat crackers
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Whole-wheat sandwich buns and rolls
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Wild rice
- Whole cornmeal
- Shredded wheat cereal
How to identify whole grains:
- Look for the word “whole” as the first word on the ingredients list
- Look for the whole grain stamp on a product:
Do your best to incorporate whole grains into your diet! Your body will thank you!