By now, numerous studies have established the importance of a balanced diet to healthy living. The body requires multiple nutrients to function properly, which a balanced diet can provide. Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins along with a host of other nutrients are all obtained from different foods; this makes understanding individual food categories very important for you. Grains, in particular, are a very common food category, which means probably means you are well acquainted with them by now. However, do you know how they affect your health? If you are uncertain, this article will provide you with a useful summary of the benefits en deficiencies of grains.
Firstly, there are 3 different types of grains; whole grains, refined grains and enriched grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains retain both their germ and bran after milling, meaning they have higher fiber content. Enriched grains, on the other hand, are grains that have been fortified not only with the nutrients they lost during processing, but also other vitamins and minerals.
Foods most commonly associated with grains include; rice, oatmeal, pasta and grain-toast although a very wide range exists, with quinoa and wheat berries being also very good examples. Grains are widely famous for their ability to be eaten comfortably together with other foods, although they possess many other qualities that are very important to health.
A 2010 study carried out by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found grains to have numerous health benefits including; a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, inflammatory disease, gum disease and asthma. Additionally, whole grains promoted healthier carotid arteries in individuals, better blood pressure levels, and excellent weight maintenance. And that was the result of just one study. You might be wondering, how do grains possess so many health benefits?
As aforementioned, whole and enriched grains contain a vast sea of nutrients and minerals. Since their list is long, examples of the more common nutritious grains should serve as proof of their benefits. Barley, for instance, is a very healthy source of soluble and insoluble fiber altogether. Fiber is well known for the important role it plays in the digestion of food. Additionally, it is also a rich calorie and carbohydrate source meaning it is essential for providing energy in the body. This goes without mentioning its abundance of minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper, iron and Vitamin E which all play a role in preventing chronic diseases.
Oats, on the other hand, are not only rich in fiber; they are also a very good protein source. They play a crucial role of lowering cholesterol levels in the body and stabilizing blood sugar, which vastly reduces the risk of heart disease. Less refined oat flour has also been found to bear important minerals such as magnesium, selenium and manganese.
The other very nutritious example is brown rice. Unlike its white counterpart, brown rice is rich in both Vitamin E and fiber. Vitamin E not only boost you immunity and facilitates healthier skin, it is also plays an important role in productivity. Brown rice also carries it fair share of minerals, ranging from tryptophan to selenium. If you didn't know, tryptophan plays a very important role in promoting sleep.
Although grains bear a long list of benefits, they do have their setbacks. Dietary cereal grains, for example, have been known to be causative agents of autoimmune diseases (those that occur when your body loses its protein-distinguishing capability). Additionally, cereal grains are low in fats, even the essential ones such as omega-3 fatty acids. This has been noted to be a cause of arthritis, bowel disease and low weight/size of infants that were born to vegetarian women primarily taking cereals. Cereal grains have also been shown to be low on Sodium and Calcium, very important elements. Other than that, no other negative effects have been scientifically proven as of now.
Even though they have some defects when primarily consumed alone, whole grains are undoubtedly very nutritious. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has continually encouraged people to adopt whole grains into their diets as a substitute for refined products and junk food given their multiple health benefits.
Starting a whole grain diet is not hard at all. All you need to do is gradually introduce whole grain products in each meal i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner. For instance, instead of eating white bread in the morning, substitute it with whole grain bread. Additionally, if you choose to snack during the day, go for whole grain products. If you have children, you can slowly introduce grains through their cereals and snacks.
As can be seen, whole grains can be very healthy for you. Not only are they nutritious, they also help in other body processes such as digestion. They would prove to be a very important addition to your diet, helping you live a healthier productive life. However, it is equally important to balance your diet since grains alone are not the answer. Eventually, the decision is yours and depends on your preferences and bodily requirements.