GRAINS ARE GOOD (WHOLE GRAINS AT LEAST)
Everyone knows whole grains can play an important role in a healthy, well-balanced diet. But do you know just how good for you whole grains actually are?
Whole grain oats are loaded with nutritious goodies and health benefits like fiber, protein, antioxidants, and B vitamins, as well as trace minerals that are important for your health, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper.
When you eat a diet that is nutrient-dense and rich in whole-grain foods, you may be able to reduce your risks of developing common health conditions, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.
WHOLE GRAINS VS STANDARD GRAINS
Whole grains differ from standard, refined grains largely in the way they are processed. A grain seed contains an outer, inedible husk. Inside that husk are three distinct parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.
When a grain is “refined,” the bran and the germ are removed, leaving behind only the endosperm. The endosperm makes up most of the volume of the seed kernel, and contains mostly carbohydrates.
The bran is the edible outer “skin” which wraps around the germ and the endosperm (but it isn’t part of the hard, inedible outer husk). It contains some B-vitamins, some antioxidants, and of course, that all-important nutrient, fiber.
The germ is the actual part of the seed which will grow, using the endosperm section as “food” in the process. In order to facilitate that, it contains many B-vitamins, as well as some minerals and protein.
This means that refined grains lack the healthy nutrients contained in the bran and germ, making them a less than ideal choice for overall health. They also deprive the digestive system of the “roughage” benefit of whole grains, which is important in keeping the bowels healthy and detoxifying the body.
SOME EXAMPLES OF WHOLE GRAINS
There are many ways to incorporate whole grains into your diet. Brown rice, barley, whole wheat, whole rye, buckwheat, and bulgur are just a few on the whole food product list. Other whole-grain foods that are easy to add to your diet include whole-wheat bread, rolled oats, whole-grain cereal, and oat bran.
BENEFITS OF WHOLE GRAIN OATS
There is, in fact, a long list of benefits to eating whole grain oats. And with so much research being done on an ongoing basis, more benefits are uncovered all the time.
Here are a few health benefits of oats that you may want to take note of:
MAY INCREASE REGULARITY
The most obvious benefit of eating whole grains is improved bowel movements and intestinal tract cleansing due to its dietary fiber. This process is facilitated by the bran in the whole grain kernel. Fiber is essential in our modern-day lifestyle, and can reduce (and in some cases eliminate) the need for laxatives in older people when eaten daily.
MAY REDUCE SNACKING
Eating oats reduces the urge to grab a snack in between meals, which can even help with weight loss. Some studies have found that eating oats for breakfast can leave you feeling full for longer than other types of breakfast foods. Plus it has been shown to increase the release of Peptide Y-Y, a hormone in the gut which is associated with your body’s mechanism for controlling appetite.
MAY REDUCE ASTHMA DEVELOPMENT
Starting to eat oats at an early age may reduce the likelihood of developing asthma during development. A Finnish study done on almost 1,300 very young children (younger than is normally advised for eating oats) found that it reduced the probabilities of asthmatic problems during the growth years.
MAY IMPROVE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The beta glucans contained in oats have been proven to improve the defenses of the human immune system. That means eating whole grain oats can help your body fight back against infections from bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. The beta glucan content in oats has also been shown to lower blood pressure, making it the perfect healthy eating breakfast food.
MAY REDUCE BAD CHOLESTEROL
Eating oats regularly has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol. The soluble fiber found in whole grain oats when mixed with water creates a sticky, gel-like substance that attaches to excess cholesterol and flushes it out of the body before it can cause any damage.
MAY IMPROVE HEALTH IN DIABETICS
Diabetics may benefit from whole grain oats too. In Mannheim, Germany, a group of diabetics were introduced to an eating plan which included oats. Within one month, the average person in the group was able to reduce insulin intake by around 40%.
While the oats didn’t account for all of the improvement, it definitely contributed to it. In addition to that, a research team in Chicago found that eating oats can contribute to increased insulin sensitivity.
WHERE TO BUY WHOLE GRAINS
You can buy whole grains in bulk online for reasonable prices. Look for the organic label, or the non-GMO project label. Most whole grains usually are already GMO-free, but it’s good practice to check labels anyway. For a quick and easy whole grain fix, check out our ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes, which have whole grain oats as the first ingredient!