The benefits of whole-grain carbs

October 9, 2015

There is nothing like whole grains when it comes to preventing chronic diseases. Whole grains come in different varieties.  Here are some of the benefits and a list of specific foods that you should add to your diet.

The benefits of whole-grain carbs

The health benefits of whole grains

There's clear, strong evidence that if you eat at least three servings of these foods a day, you'll substantially lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Here are some of the facts about why that is:

  • Eating more whole grains has been shown to cut heart disease risk by 25 percent in women and 18 percent in men and reduce diabetes risk by 35 percent in both.
  • One key way grains may protect against these diseases is by helping to prevent a root cause: metabolic syndrome. One study showed those who ate about three servings of whole grains a day were 54 percent less likely to have metabolic syndrome than people who ate less than one serving a day.
  • Six weeks on a whole-grain diet can markedly improve insulin sensitivity, according to one study of overweight men and women.
  • Whole grains contain all the parts of the grain, not just the starchy low-fibre centre (endosperm) but also the nutrient-rich germ layer and the fibre-rich bran layer on the outside.
  • Whole grains are rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and a wide range of plant compounds.
  • Most whole grains have lower glycemic loads than most refined grains.

The top of the glucose level pyramid

When planning your dietary options think of these foods as a pyramid. It's ok to take from any part of the pyramid but some are better than others.  At the top of foods you should choose least often:

  • potatoes
  • french fries
  • white bread
  • overcooked pasta
  • udon noodles
  • white rice
  • sticky rice
  • rice-based cereal

Step two of the GL pyramid

Choose these a little more often:

  • cornflakes
  • millet
  • instant Cream of Wheat
  • most baked goods
  • nondiet soda
  • sweetened fruit drinks
  • dried dates
  • raisins
  • converted white rice
  • wild rice
  • brown rice
  • wheatberries
  • pasta cooked al dente
  • whole wheat pasta
  • rye crispbread
  • chocolate milk
  • apple juice
  • pineapple juice
  • dried figs
  • bananas

The largest part of the pyramid

Choose these most often:

  • sweet potatoes
  • black-eyed peas
  • whole grain cereals
  • low-sugar cereals
  • regular Cream of Wheat
  • whole grain and sourdough bread
  • coarse barley bread
  • whole-grain pumpernickel
  • pearled barley
  • oatmeal
  • bran cereal
  • muesli
  • lima beans
  • split peas
  • milk
  • soy milk
  • tomato juice
  • dried prunes
  • dried apricots
  • yogurt
  • most vegetables (except potatoes)
  • lentils
  • all dried beans (except black-eyed peas)
  • most fresh fruits (and 100 percent fruit juice if limited to 175 millilitres/six ounces)

You're better off with whole grains, which offer benefits to blood sugar. This pyramid of foods is a good guide to ensuring you're getting the most benefit from your whole grain diet.

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