How Whole Grains Benefit Your Body
A diet rich in whole grains can help keep your heart healthy, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and help regulate blood sugar levels. That’s because whole grains contain fibers and other valuable nutrients that benefit your body. Studies also show that people who eat whole grains tend to stay more satisfied throughout the day, get more physical activity and maintain a healthier weight.
Whole Grains & Weight Management
Whole grains are certainly not at the top of any fad diets these days, and although they may not be the latest and greatest when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight they should not be overlooked. Packed with nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber, whole grains contain some of the best elements to keep you on track when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Research supports the notion that people who eat foods naturally high in fiber tend to weigh less.
Dietary fiber has been associated with lower body weight and body fat. In one study, women with the highest fiber intake had a 49 percent lower risk of major weight gain over 12 years. Just like the link between whole grains and heart disease, an important part of body weight management seems to be whole grain’s fiber content.
Whole Grains & Heart Health
The link between high cholesterol and heart disease is a well-known fact. But did you know that whole grains, specifically the soluble fiber found in certain whole grains such as oats, have been shown in multiple studies to reduce cholesterol levels in the body? It’s true. And by supplying a steady supply of soluble fiber from whole grains you can take an active role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
According to recent studies, the bran component of whole grain in particular could be the main factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. Eating high-fiber foods has also been associated with a reduced risk of stroke. Plenty of research done over the past 20 years has shown the important relationship between fiber intake and cardiovascular health.
Whole Grains & Type II Diabetes
Whenever we eat, the amount of glucose, or blood sugar, in our body increases. This increase signals the body to jump into action either using this energy source right away or storing it in our cells for use later when we need it. When we eat a diet full of simple sugars (think soda, candy and refined grains), the sugar in our food enters our blood stream quickly causing sugar “spikes." Over time these spikes can be taxing on our body and it may not be able to respond as well as it used to leading to insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes.
Diabetes happens when the body is not able to manage blood sugar levels. In a healthy body, the hormone insulin assists in turning glucose into energy for cells. In diabetes, your body doesn’t process blood glucose effectively, and cells don’t get the energy they need. Studies have shown that increasing your fiber intake could reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes—the most common form—by up to 30%. The fiber in whole grains, rather than fruit or vegetable fiber, seems to be associated with this protective effect.
Because whole grains are complex carbohydrates and they naturally contain fiber, they cannot be broken down and absorbed as quickly as a simple sugars or refined grains. This means the increase in blood sugar happens more slowly, putting less stress on the body and giving it more time to respond. A slow release of sugar into the blood stream also means a more stable release of energy to keep you going throughout the day.