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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Carbohydrates >>  Whole Grain Foods

Whole Grain Foods

Whole grain foods are those that comprise of a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. These encompass all the products manufactured with the bran and germ intact. Whole grains, whole wheat bread or muffins, bulgar, brown rice, wheat germ, popcorn, couscous, oatmeal and puffed whole grains fall under this category, whereas, white bread, waffles, pasta, cakes, white rice and biscuits are refined foods. Whole grain consists of the outer layer ‘bran’, main part ‘endosperm’ and smallest part ‘germ’.

Wholegrain foods are a good source of B complex vitamins.
They are also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Whole grains are cholesterol free and reduced in saturated fat. It is a good source of polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Carbohydrates are abundant in whole grains. A notable amount of protein and minerals, like copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus are present. Antioxidants and phytochemicals, namely phenolic compounds, lignans, saponins, oryzanol, phytic acid aiding in reducing cholesterol levels are also seen. Phenolic compounds exhibit free radical scavenging property. Lignans slows cancer incidence. Saponins and oryzanol are helpful in decreasing the cholesterol levels. Phytic acid aids in regulating the blood glucose levels. Nutritional values are significantly met.

The bran and germ is removed, during the process of polishing, thereby depriving them of 66 per cent of fiber. Approximately 99.8 per cent of phytochemicals are lost, due to refining. Fortification of nutrients is possible to a certain extent, though these grains remain deprived of phytochemicals. Whole grain cereals have a lower glycemic index, resulting in decreased risks of diabetes mellitus. Oats and psyllium are good sources of soluble fiber. Substitution of these whole grains proves beneficial against heart disease. A significant reduction in the cholesterol levels is seen.

Reduced incidence of diverticulitis and constipation is seen in individuals consuming whole grain cereals. The fiber content adds bulk to the feces, resulting in softer and easier bowel movement. This causes a decrease in the harmful microbes, thereby eliminating the toxic substances. Research reveals the decreased incidence of stomach, colon, breast, kidney, digestive tract and bladder cancer. Weight management therapy is benefited by intake of whole grains. Fiber provides a feeling of satiety, thereby decreasing the eating capacity. They also take a longer time to breakdown. Four to five servings of cereals are recommended per day. Whole grains should comprise half of this. Whole meal whole grain breads are also available, comprising of whole grains, in addition to the whole meal flour.
Submitted on January 16, 2014