Whole Grains Offer Protection Against Number of Chronic Conditions

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Going shopping these days, you can go crazy trying to make a decision. Which bread is better for you? Which pasta? Which crackers? 

    The consensus choice is that the healthiest products contain whole grains, which are considered the most nutritious since they are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.  According to the American Diabetes Association, whole grain is the entire grain, including the bran, germ and endosperm (which is the starchy part).

    And experts point out that whole grains are really, really good for you. A 2007 study found that a diet that is high in whole grain foods is associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke. Researchers from Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine found that people who ate an average of 2.5 servings of whole grains daily had a 21 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than people who ate only 0.2 servings. Other research has suggested that eating more whole grains also may protect against diabetes and other chronic conditions.

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    So how much should you eat daily? Experts recommend that adults should consume at least three ounces of whole grains daily. One slice of bread, one cup of cereal and one-half cup of cooked rice, pasta or cooked cereal is considered to be equivalent to one ounce.


    Getting Past Confusing Marketing

    But with all the marketing that’s going on, how do you know if the foods you’re purchasing are truly whole grain? The Whole Grains Council has created a Whole Grain Stamp that helps consumers find products that are truly whole grain. This stamp started to appear on products in mid-2005 and is becoming more widespread. This council has a 100 percent stamp that assures consumers that the food in question has a full serving of more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that all of the grain is whole grain. There also is a Whole Grain Stamp, which appears on products that contain at least half of a serving of whole grain per labeled serving.

    However, if you don’t see one of these stamps, you need to make sure that you read the food label to make the best choice. “Finding whole grain foods can be a challenge,” the ADA stated. “Some foods only contain a small amount of whole grain but will say it contains whole grain on the front of the package.” To make sure you’re getting whole grain food, look for one of the following words listed as the first ingredient: bulgur (cracked wheat), whole wheat flour, whole oats/oatmeal, whole grain corn/corn meal, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, wheatberries, whole grain barley, whole faro, wild rice, buckwheat, buckwheat flour, triticale, millet, quinoa and sorgum.

    And if you’re gluten intolerant, there are still whole grains that you can choose from, according to the Whole Grains Council. These grains include amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, montina, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, wild rice as well as oats that are processed by certain companies that ensure that they are kept separate from wheat during growing and processing.

  • However, other wording on the packaging can be misleading. “These words are accurate descriptions of the package contents, but because some parts of the grain MAY be missing, you are likely missing the benefits of whole grains,” the Whole Grains Council stated. “When in doubt, don't trust these words!” These words include wheat or wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat, organic flour, stoneground and multigrain (which may describe several whole grains, several refined grains, or a combination of both of these types of grains). The council also warns of four common descriptions that never describe whole grains. These descriptions are enriched flour, degerminated (on corn meal), bran and wheat germ.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    American Diabetes Association. (nd). Whole grain foods.

    Choosemyplate.gov. (2011). What counts as an ounce equivalent of grains?

    Science Daily. (2007). Health benefits of whole grains confirmed.

    Whole Grains Council. (nd). Gluten free whole grains.

    Whole Grains Council. (nd). Whole grain stamp.

Published On: May 23, 2013