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Why wholegrain is healthy

Why wholegrain is healthy

Carbs in general have got a bit of a bad name in the foodie world. But although it is true that many types of carbohydrates contain empty calories that can lead to weight gain, if you’re sensible about the types of carbohydrates you choose, there is no reason why they should be the devil in your diet.

13 healthy ways to use wholegrains

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Superfood salad

With quinoa & roasted sweet potato

Full of great veggies, this salad is nutritious, delicious and super-satisfying

Just apply the same theory here as you do with fats, and make sure that the majority of your carbohydrates are eaten in their whole form: as whole grains. Before I get started on how great whole grains are, I should probably clear up what a grain is, and why choosing wholegrain carbs is the better, more nutritious choice.

Grains are hard, dried seeds that are harvested for food. In their natural form, they exist in three parts: the germ, the bran and the endosperm. Whole grains are those that are in their natural form when they are eaten, with all three parts still present. Refined grains go through a process called milling which removes both the germ; the reproductive part of the grain, and the bran; the outer layer of the grain. When these parts of the grain are removed, a lot of the nutrients and fibre are lost with them.

When it comes to everyday food such as bread, pasta and cereals, there are notable differences in the nutrients present between refined and wholemeal versions.

A lot of people start their day with toast, and a simple switch of white bread to brown means you are seriously upping your fibre intake from around 0.5-1g per slice to between 3-4g per slice. Given that it’s recommended we eat around 30g of fibre today (the majority of us get nowhere near!), making this small change is one step towards hitting that target. Fibre helps waste food to pass through our gut, keeping our digestive systems happy. Products with more fibre in take longer to digest and are slow releasing, which in turn means we have a more sustained level of energy, so we are less likely to reach for sugary snacks throughout the day.

White wheat flour is now required by law to be fortified (the process of adding nutrients to food) with certain vitamins and minerals, to try to make up for the nutrients lost during the milling process. Despite this, wholemeal products are, on average, still more nutritious and have significantly higher levels of certain minerals than white bread, including phosphorus, which we need to keep our bones and teeth healthy. Iron is also significantly higher in wholemeal products such as bread and pasta than in the refined versions – a nutrient which many women in particular do not get enough of. Many B-vitamins, for example, niacin and riboflavin, which we need for nervous and metabolic system function, are also higher in wholemeal versions of products like pasta and bread.

Integrating wholegrain into your diet is super simple: all carbohydrates have a whole version so there is no excuse! Even if you just do it half the time you are still making a massive difference to your nutrient and fibre intake, and every little helps!

How to Bake the Best Healthy Breads From Scratch

When it comes to baking healthy bread, the simplest way to boost nutrition is to use whole-grain flours.

Bread, like most foods, is generally healthier when made with whole, unprocessed ingredients without a lot of additives. I&aposll show you how to choose which flours and other ingredients are best for making healthy breads, and how to work with them so your bread turns out just right. I&aposll also point you to top-rated bread recipes that are packed with nutrients and taste great, too.

What Are Whole Grains and Why Are They Better For You?

Grains are the seeds of certain types of plants, and whole grains contain three essential parts:

  1. An oily inner germ, which can sprout into a new plant
  2. The starchy endospermਊround the germ, meant for the new plant&aposs food supply, and
  3. A tough outer layer called the bran. The germ contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, healthy oils, and some protein. The bran has fiber and vitamins.

When whole grains are milled into refined flour, the bran and germ are removed, leaving only the endosperm. The flours are sometimes fortified by adding back vitamins or some amount of bran and germ, but it isn&apost really the same.

Whole-grain flours, on the other hand, are made by grinding the entire kernel. Whole-grain flour keeps most of the nutrients the grains started with. Whole-grain flours also have a lower glycemic index than refined flours, meaning that they don&apost raise blood sugar as quickly or as much. Foods with a higher glycemic index increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to reliable sources like Harvard&aposs School of Public Health, so aim for a lower index when possible.

Top Tips For Making Healthy Breads

Start with Small Substitutions.਍on&apost just substitute whole-grain flours for all the refined flour in your favorite bread recipes. Doughs made with a large percentage of whole-grain flours don&apost behave the same as doughs made with refined flours. Start out by swapping out small amounts of refined flour for whole-grain flour and see what it does to the taste and texture.

Add Moisture. Once your flour mix਌ontains one-third to one-half whole grains, most bread recipes will require more liquid.

Experiment with different whole-grain recipes to find the flavors and textures you like best. Many interesting flour options are widely available now at markets or from online sources like਋ob&aposs Red Mill. Adding even a small percentage of whole-grain flour to your recipe will add some nutritional value to your bread, plus some bonus flavor, color, and texture.

Give DIY a Try. Some serious bakers have countertop flour mills at home, but you can also grind your own flour in a powerful blender or, for small amounts, a dedicated coffee grinder.

Add-Ins. Seek out other nutritious additions to your breads, whether you swear by seeds, nuts, or other favorites. Ezekiel਋reads, one popular choice, incorporate protein-packed ingredients like beans and legumes. (This Ezekiel bread, also known as Bible Bread, includes cooked lentils, while this Ezekiel breadਊnd this਋read machine versionꃊll for finely ground dried beans and lentils.)

Troubleshooting Whole Grain Breads

Problem: Bread is dense.

The biggest problem most people face is that their breads are squatterਊndꃞnser than what they&aposre used to seeing. What can you do about it, besides adjusting expectations?

1. In recipes that mix whole-grain and refined flours, consider using high-protein bread flour rather than all-purpose flour.

2. Some people add vital wheat gluten to whole-grain recipes to improve the texture, as with this Irresistible Whole Wheat Challah.

Problem: Bread is dry.

"Healthy" breads don&apost have to be਌rumblyਊnd dry. Making a "soaker" for the dough can improve the texture and even flavor. That&aposs when bakers soak some or all of the flour in liquid before combining it with the other ingredients. This Simple Whole Wheat Bread uses a variation on that strategy.

Problem: Bread falls apart.

To help whole-grain loaves hold their shapeꂾtter, try giving the dough a long, slow final rise in the refrigerator rather than a shorter rise on the counter.

Be aware, if you are using small-batch flours or home-ground ingredients, that they may not produce਌onsistent results. Use your own judgment and adjust recipe variables like rising time as needed.

Which Whole Grains Are Best For Breads?

Some whole-grain flours are better suited for baking breads than others, especially if you want to bake mostly or entirely with whole grains. Here are some of the most commonly used whole grains.

Whole Wheat Flour

Easy to find, and tastes familiar. It&aposs also relatively simple to make a good bread entirely from whole wheat flour, even though many recipes do cut it with all-purpose or bread flour. White whole wheat flour has a milder flavor.

    combines whole wheat flour, bread flour, and oats to make a top-rated loaf.  is made in a bread machine with whole wheat flour and a touch of honey.  has extra texture from cracked wheat, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds added to the mix.

Spelt Flour

Made from an ancient grain in the same family as wheat, has a pleasantly nutty flavor and is high in protein. Although spelt is lower in gluten than regular wheat, it is not safe for those with celiac disease.

     uses spelt flour and a bit of sugar for flavor. You could substitute honey, if you wish.  is a no-knead recipe made without yeast. ਌ombines white spelt flour with whole grain spelt flour, and is made in your bread machine.

Oats and Oat Flour

Oatmeal bread often incorporates rolled oats. Oats can also be ground into flour, adding heartiness and sweetness to flour blends.

     yields a dense, slightly sweet yeast bread made with rolled oats and bread flour.  is sweetened with molasses and a generous dose of raisins.  uses a combination of oats, oat flour, wheat four, and bread flour. Read the reviews to see the flour substitutions some home cooks made.

Rye Flour, Rye Meal, and Pumpernickel

This high-fiber grain can be ground into flour which may or may not contain all of the bran, germ, and endosperm which would qualify it as a whole-grain flour. White, light, and medium rye flours are not whole grain dark rye flour is whole grain IF it says so on the package, Rye meal can be ground from coarse to fine, and is usually whole grain, but you should check the package. Pumpernickel flour or meal is coarse-grained and is usually whole grain, but again, check the package to be sure.

    combines dark rye flour with bread flour for a sandwich-worthy loaf. has dark rye flour, bread flour, vital wheat gluten, and caraway seeds in the mix. is a densely textured loaf made with dark rye flour.

What About Sprouted Grains?

Remember how the germs in whole grains are capable of sprouting into new plants? Some people let those germs begin to sprout. Then they either grind the sprouted grains into a wet mixture or dry the sprouted grains to grind into flour. Fans believe sprouted grains are better for you and that their nutrients are also more accessible and digestible.

All you need to sprout your own grains are the grains (wheat berries are a common choice), a mason jar, and a piece of cheesecloth. Full sprouting directions are here. Just make sure you have a few days to sprout your grains before baking your bread! Or, if you don&apost want to DIY, sprouted grain flours can be purchased at some stores or ordered online. Essene bread, sometimes called Manna bread, is probably the most widely-known version of sprouted grain bread.

     gives you directions for sprouting and grinding wheat berries you&aposll want to allow several days for the entire process. The result is a dense, moist, sweet loaf. Reviewers recommend not letting the berries sprout more than the quarter inch specified in the recipe, otherwise the bread starts tasting a little grassy.  uses a combination of ground sprouted wheat berries and whole wheat flour.

Healthy Gluten-Free Breads

Even if you&aposre sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, you can make healthy bread with whole-grain flours. Some whole-grain flours are naturally gluten-free, including sweet sorghum, earthy਋uckwheat, nutty amaranthteff (used to make injera, the spongy Ethiopian flatbread), mild milletਊnd slightly bitter quinoa. Breads made with just these flours, though, won&apost have the open crumb and lofty rise that wheat flours provide. (In some cases, they won&apost even hold together.) Most recipes combine these whole-grain flours with other ingredients to bind and shape the loaf. Generally speaking, these breads are still healthier than gluten-free flours that aren&apost made from whole grains.

Additionally, nut flours like almond flour and hazelnut flour are packed with protein and are useful both for gluten-free bakers and for carb-conscious breadmakers living the Paleo life.

Couscous: Is It Healthy?

This Mediterranean staple has become a popular side dish. But should couscous be making a regular appearance on your plate?

Not technically a grain, this combination of semolina wheat and water is actually more like pasta. There are several types of couscous, including the large Israeli couscous (aka pearled couscous) and the small Moroccan couscous (about 3 times the size of cornmeal).

One cup of cooked Moroccan couscous has 176 calories, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. It's sugar- and fat-free and contains about 66% of the recommended daily dose of selenium.

Whole wheat couscous is more nutritious that the regular variety. It's made from whole wheat durum flour. It contains 5 to 6 grams of fiber per serving, which can help you meet the recommended daily amount of fiber.

Couscous has a mild flavor which makes it extremely versatile. It works well with different flavors, both sweet and savory.

Couscous lacks the variety of nutrients found in true whole grains like farro, brown rice, bulgur, and amaranth. If you eat it regularly instead of whole grains you could be missing out on some important nutrients. In addition, if you don't keep track of portions or add large portions of high-calorie ingredients (like dried fruit, oil and nuts) you can easily rack up calories.

Couscous also has a higher glycemic index than other whole grains, weighing in at 65, while brown rice has a GI of 50 and bulgur 48. Diabetics may be better off choosing lower glycemic index foods to help maintain better blood sugar control.

The Verdict: Couscous can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan but it shouldn't take the place of true whole grains. Including a variety of grains will help ensure that you’re getting in all your essential nutrients.

Your Guide to Healthy Whole Grains

Learn all of the wonderful ways you can prepare hearty whole grains, then add them to your recipe rotation.

Related To:

Great Grains

Whole grains have all three of their edible parts intact: the endosperm, the bran and the germ. Learn the tastiest ways to prepare these hearty grains and how to take advantage of their flavors and textures.

Amaranth: 1 cup grain + 1 cup water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a pot. Add 1 cup of amaranth. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Golden-colored minuscule seeds with an earthy, sesame-like flavor. Sprinkle popped amaranth over cereals, casseroles or salads. Cooked amaranth makes a great polenta or porridge.

Barley: 1 cup grain + 1 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Sort and rinse barley. In a medium saucepan, add water and barley and simmer, covered, until tender, approximately 1 hour.

Use: Chubby, dense and chewy grains with a slightly sweet, malty flavor. Hulled barley is minimally processed and best used in soups, stews and nubby grain salads pearled barley is polished to remove the bran and hull and works best in risotto and puddings.

Brown Rice: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Rinse 1 cup of brown rice well, then put in a saucepan with 2 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the liquid simmers, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Use: Whole-grain rice with a deep nutty flavor. Short-grain cooks up sticky long-grain turns fluffy. Use whenever white rice is used, in pilafs, casseroles or rice salads. Holds up beautifully in stir-fries.

Buckwheat: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Wash in cold water. Add 1 cup buckwheat to 2 cups of boiling water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes. Fluff to cool for salads.

Use: Triangular pale-green seeds with a delicate flavor fast-cooking. Not related to wheat or any grain. Makes a comforting porridge buckwheat flour is best used in pancakes and waffles.

Bulgur: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain off excess liquid. Serves 4. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Steamed, dried and husked wheat berries, cracked into various grinds. Use fine bulgur in tabbouleh or any other grain salad, or as a last-minute thickener for soups. Coarse bulgur is ideal for making pilafs, casseroles and stuffing.

Farro: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Add farro to boiling salted water. Boil for about 40 minutes for regular farro, and about 20 minutes for semi-pearled or pearled. Drain if needed. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Old-World variety of wheat with a nutty, mild earthy flavor and pleasant chewy texture. Use instead of rice or pasta to make a hearty grain salad.

Freekeh: 1 cup grain + 2 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Combine 1 cup freekeh with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and cook, covered, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Fire-roasted, threshed and sun-dried young green wheat. Distinctive nutty and smoky taste. Add it to soups and stews or serve on its own, tossed with a little olive oil.

Khorasan: 1 cup grain + 3 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: In a medium saucepan, bring the liquid to a boil with the salt. Then add the khorasan (aka Kamut) grain, and bring back to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 90 minutes. (To reduce cooking time, soak in water overnight.) Remove from the heat, with the lid on, and let it rest to steam for 10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid.

Use: Large, elongated, golden kernels with a rich, buttery flavor. An ancient wheat. Add to soups and salads.

Kasha: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Mix kasha and 1 egg white in a bowl until kasha is well coated. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add kasha mixture cook for 3 minutes or until grains are separated and dried out, stirring frequently. Add water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. The egg white will keep the kasha from becoming mushy when cooked. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Toasted buckwheat seeds with an assertive earthy taste and a toasty, mushroom-y aroma. Traditionally used to make kasha varnishkes. Great with creamy mushroom sauces or as a pilaf.

Spelt: 1 cup grain + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Rinse well before cooking. Combine 1 cup spelt with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and cook covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: An ancient hulled wheat grain chewy, versatile and slender with a reddish bran and nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Can be used as a substitute for pasta or in soups. Spelt flour is great for baking.

Millet: 1 cup grain + 2 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Wash in cold water and place 1 cup of millet in a pan with 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Use: Small bright golden grains with the delicate flavor of toasted cashew nuts. Use in place of oatmeal for a hot breakfast cereal or as a couscous or polenta substitute.

Oats: 1 cup grain + 1 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Bring water to a boil. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of steel-cut oats. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes (al dente) to 20 minutes (creamy). Stir every few minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Serve in 4 bowls.

Use: Rolled, steel-cut, quick or instant oats have a delicate natural sweetness and creamy texture. A real crowd-pleaser in oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, but try them also in soups, in pilafs or as a crisp topping for baked fruits.

Quinoa: 1 cup grain + 1 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Rinse well before cooking. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups of water (2 1/2 to 3 cups of water for white quinoa) and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and cook uncovered, until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: The seeds of this Andean plant unravel into small coils when cooked. Faintly grassy, vegetal taste. Nutritious and quick-cooking. Use in soups, as a couscous substitute or as a porridge sweetened with honey and cream.

Teff: 1 cup grain + 3 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Combine 1 cup of teff with 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. For extra flavor, lightly toast the grain before cooking.

Use: The staple grain of Ethiopia its name translates to "lost" because the brown, red or ivory seeds are tiny. The grain is best used in stews, the flour in baked goods, like bread and waffles. Also great in a sweet breakfast porridge or a savory polenta.

Wheat Berries: 1 cup grain + 3 1/2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: Soak overnight before cooking. Combine 1 cup wheat berries with 3 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and cook covered, until tender but still chewy, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Use: Entire hulled wheat kernels with a nutty, chewy texture. Perfect for heartier dishes and substantial grain salads.

Wild Rice: 1 cup grain + 2 1/3 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook: In a medium saucepan, bring the liquid to a boil and then add water and rice. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, with the lid on, and let it rest to steam for 10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Fluff with a fork, salt to taste and serve.

Use: An aquatic grass, not related to rice, with an aromatic tea scent and intense woodsy, vegetal flavor. Can be too assertive on its own mix with white or brown rice and use in a savory pilaf. Stunning in chicken soup.

Whole-grain research: weak evidence overall

After analyzing 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials, researchers concluded that eating more whole grains and fiber might be an effective strategy for preventing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and reducing risk of early death. 6

We wrote about that study when it came out, noting that it compared diets with whole grains to diets full of highly-refined grains. 7 (We also addressed the erroneous myth that low-carb diets are necessarily low-fiber diets. They are not!) And we wondered aloud how the results would have been different if the comparison group ate a low-carb, no grain diet.

Importantly, the evidence for whole grains’ beneficial health effects are largely based on epidemiological or observational studies. This kind of evidence cannot prove cause and effect and we should not rely upon these studies to draw any firm conclusions.

Learn more about observational vs. experimental studies:

Guide to observational vs. experimental studies

Guide In this guide, we discuss the differences between observational and experimental studies, the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Since whole grains are promoted as a healthy product – they are typically chosen and eaten by people who prioritize health – so these people not only eat whole grains, they tend to engage in a whole host of healthy behaviors too – like not smoking, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and exercising. Thus, the association between whole-grain consumption and good health is a perfect example of the “healthy user bias.”

Take the example of the “Blue Zones,” sections of society where people live to be 100 years old far more frequently than the general population. They are reported to eat lots of whole grains. But we don’t know if they are healthier because of the whole grains or because they tend to practice many other health-conscious behaviors like exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and cooking fresh food at home on a regular basis.

Observational studies are also limited by “social desirability bias.” This is where people taking part in a study respond in a certain way in order to please the researchers. 8 Since whole grains are promoted as healthy for us, many people may respond, “Yes, of course, every day!” to the question “Do you eat wholegrain bread?”— even when they prefer white bread! This makes it harder to rely on self-reported dietary intake of healthy foods.

How do we understand this better? Let’s examine the higher-quality randomized control trial (RCT) evidence to see how well it supports the claim that whole grains can improve your health.

RCTs are designed to compare an intervention (such as consuming more whole grains) with a control (consuming refined grains or a standard diet). In these whole grain RCT studies, we need to know what the whole grains were compared to. Did they compare eating whole grains to eating refined grains? Or was it a standard diet? Or even better, low-carb vegetables? As you will see, it makes a difference.

Whole grains and weight loss

Many nutrition authorities, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, keep sharing this message: “Eating plenty of whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help with weight management.” 9 But how strong is the evidence linking high whole-grain intake and weight loss?

A 2013 systematic review of RCTs — considered the strongest type of evidence — found slightly higher fat loss (less than 0.5% difference) with no difference in overall weight loss in groups who consumed diets high in whole grains compared to groups who consumed refined grains. 10 A newer systematic review published in 2019 found no weight loss benefit from whole-grain consumption. 11

In other words, RCTs show the effect of whole grains on weight loss to be small at best. However, some studies show beneficial effects beyond just weight loss.

Several RCT studies have found that among normal weight and overweight adults, those who consumed whole grains compared to refined grains for four to 16 weeks experienced greater increases in resting metabolic rate and greater decreases in belly fat, insulin resistance, inflammation and body weight. 12

In one study, people who ate whole rye products had greater fat loss compared to those who consumed refined grains. The same was not found for wholegrain wheat. 13

Bottom line: RCTs show that adding whole grains to the diet has minimal benefit on body weight. However, replacing refined grains with whole grains likely has more significant benefits. Therefore it is likely that some of the benefit of eating more whole grains comes from eating less refined grains, in addition to small, if any, beneficial effects of the whole grains themselves.

Whole grains and diabetes

Can eating whole grains on a regular basis help prevent type two diabetes and blood sugar spikes?

Once again, observational trials show a relationship between eating whole grains and having a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, we have already reviewed the weakness in this level of data and explained how it does not prove a beneficial effect from whole grains. How does the claim hold up under scrutiny of higher quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs)?

A randomized control trial specifically designed to test the effect of the fibers from whole grains on type 2 diabetes development found that wholegrain fibers were not significantly better than the control arm at lowering glucose or improving insulin sensitivity. There was no difference between the groups in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. 14 This study suggests that the addition of whole grains to a diet would not be sufficient to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Results from other experimental trials looking at blood sugar response to whole grains have been mixed. A 2017 systematic review of RCTs found that whole grains don’t raise blood sugar and insulin levels as much as refined grains do, at least in healthy people. 15

However, an even more recent review of RCTs showed that individuals without diabetes had almost identical blood sugar responses after eating whole or refined wheat or rye. The blood sugar increase was much higher after eating white rice compared to whole-grain rice, though. 16

At this time, there are only a few RCTs comparing blood sugar responses to whole vs. refined grains in obese people and those with diabetes. Overall, they have shown that replacing processed grains with whole grains improves blood sugar and insulin regulation. 17

So is this a good strategy for diabetes reversal or even adequate glycemic control? That depends. If you are replacing highly refined grains, then whole grains are likely beneficial. But how does that compare to diabetes control without grains?

Multiple randomized trials show better glycemic control with carbohydrate restriction. This by definition means they excluded grains. Systematic reviews of the RCTs confirm these results. 18 And the American Diabetes Association (ADA) now endorses “Reducing overall carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia.” 19

Whole grains can increase blood sugar more than commonly believed

Whole grains rank surprisingly high on the glycemic index (GI), the scale that measures how much a specific food raises blood sugar. 20

The amount of processing grains undergo will influence their GI. Yet even minimally processed steel-cut oats have a moderate GI of 55, and quick-cooking oatmeal has a GI over 70. 21 By contrast, cabbage and spinach have very low GIs of 15 and 6, respectively, and meat, fish, cheese, and fats are zero-GI foods.

As we already mentioned, whole grains have been shown to raise people’s blood sugar levels less than refined grains do in most experimental studies. But what is the blood sugar response to an entirely grain-free diet?

The paleo diet, which excludes grains, was found to be more effective than conventional dietary recommendations for lowering blood sugar and insulin levels in people at risk for metabolic syndrome, according to a 2015 meta-analysis of RCTs. 22

Bottom line: Replacing refined grains with whole grains likely has significant benefits for blood sugar control. However, even whole grains raise blood glucose, so completely avoiding grains likely results in even better blood sugar control.

Whole grains and heart disease

Whole grains are often referred to as “heart-healthy” foods.

Indeed, many epidemiology studies show those who eat whole grains have lower risk of heart disease. However, as mentioned earlier, this does not prove that whole grains directly improve heart health, and given the inherent weakness of the data, it is just as likely due to healthy user bias (healthier people choose to eat whole grains and therefore have other healthy habits that contribute to a lower risk of heart disease).

On the other hand, higher-quality experimental studies frequently show improvements in certain heart disease risk factors when whole grains are substituted for refined grains. Two meta-analyses of RCTs found minor reductions in LDL cholesterol (0.09mmol/L) and triglycerides (0.04 mmol/L) in groups who consumed whole grains compared to groups who consumed refined grains, with oats appearing to have the most cholesterol-lowering power. 23

However, reducing isolated risk factors does not necessarily translate into improved health, especially if one marker improves while others worsen (such as LDL improving but insulin resistance worsening.) That is why we need experimental studies looking at the end points that really matter- heart attacks, strokes and death- rather than less certain outcomes. To date, those studies are lacking.

Moreover, in 2017, the Cochrane Database performed a systematic review of nine RCTs and concluded there isn’t enough evidence to support claims that whole grains lower CVD risk. They made that conclusion due to the lack of high-quality controlled research, including small sample sizes and a high risk of bias (including funding from pro-cereal organizations) found in some of the trials they assessed. 24

And a 2020 systematic review of 25 RCTs found that although studies show whole grains may reduce some heart disease risk factors, the data is low quality and likely not clinically relevant. In addition, there is insufficient evidence to recommend whole grains over refined grains for CVD prevention and treatment. 25

This highlights the importance of understanding how low-quality research has influenced the support for the “heart-healthy” claim for whole grains. When scrutinized with a higher level of scientific integrity, the data doesn’t seem to hold up.

At this point in time, we can probably say that eating whole grains instead of refined grains is a good idea based on the other health evidence available but we should not have the expectation that we need whole grains in the diet to reduce our risk of CVD.

Whole grains and cancer risk

Cancer agencies and other groups often promote whole grains as a food that helps prevent cancer. This is based on mostly observational studies showing that people who eat the most whole grains are at lower risk for certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer. However, these studies are weakened by their low hazard ratios and by the fact that many other epidemiology studies fail to confirm those findings. 26

A huge challenge in these studies is an accurate assessment of dietary intake. There are biomarkers for whole grain intake which have been studied but they have their own limitations too including a short half-life. This may be important when looking at bowel cancer prevention because a large amount of fibre might be needed, and this is hard to assess accurately currently. 27

What’s more, experimental research (RCTs) testing the effect of consuming whole grains on cancer risk is entirely lacking. Remember, since observational studies show associations and not causation, they’re considered a very low quality of evidence. We don’t know if healthier people chose to eat more grains, or if eating the grains made them healthier, or if whole grains are simply a surrogate for food quality and fiber when compared to a diet full of refined and processed foods.

Bottom line: If whole grains replace refined grains and highly processed foods, then eating whole grains may be associated with reduced cancer incidence. However, based on the conflicting results of lower-quality observational trials and lack of RCT evidence, at this point there’s no convincing evidence that whole grains by themselves are protective against cancer.

Whole grains and other attributed health benefits

Whole grains have also been linked to a few other health improvements:

  • Reduced inflammation: Inflammation is believed to be at the root of many chronic diseases, including heart disease. 28 Two meta-analyses of RCTs found that consuming whole grains instead of refined grains helped reduce the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). 29
  • Better gut health: Bacteria that reside in your colon produce short-chain fatty acids as a byproduct of digesting fiber. Results from RCTs suggest that consuming whole grains seems to boost production of these short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the gut and may improve insulin sensitivity. 30

While these studies may sound convincing, keep in mind that they are not comparing whole grains to a grain-free, low-carb diet, but rather to the consumption of highly refined grains. It is possible the fiber content of the whole grains does play a role in these beneficial health effects – but you can get a wide range of different fibers within a low-carbohydrate diet including from nuts, seeds, avocados, low-carbohydrate fruits and non-starchy vegetables.

Benefits of wholegrain noodles

Wholegrain and wholemeal foods aren’t just a passing trend! Working wholegrains into your everyday diet will benefit your overall health by preventing heart disease and diabetes, reducing risk of obesity, aiding digestion, and even reduce the risk of developing cancer. Wholegrain noodles are nutrient-rich, since they’re filled with all those body-loving vitamins & minerals which are important for the nervous system, metabolism, and boosting overall health & energy. One cup of wholegrain noodles and pasta contain about 37 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a source of energy for your body and muscles, aiding muscle building as well as recovery from strenuous workouts. The high number of vitamins in wholegrain pasta such as B Vitamins, aids in a healthy nervous system forming healthy tissue, blood cells, and a stronger immune system. The high dietary fibre found in wholegrain noodles aids in healthy digestion by lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels and encouraging regular bowel movements.

Why are whole grains good for you?

A. Research shows that eating whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and Type-2 diabetes.

Oats are especially beneficial, having been shown to reduce cholesterol. They also may help regulate blood sugar levels and can aid weight control.

So what makes whole the way to go?

When grains are refined, nutrient-dense and fiber-rich layers of bran and germ are milled away to expose the soft, easily digestible interior, or endosperm. The endosperm contains most of the carbohydrate and protein the bran contains much of the B-vitamins, minerals, and fiber the germ -- the part of the grain where a new plant sprouts -- is rich in B-vitamins, heart-healthy oils, minerals, and some protein.

Oats, which contain an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (as well as more protein than other common cereals), are always used whole. This means they are high in fiber, and researchers think that fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other substances in whole foods such as oats work together to provide maximum nutrition and health benefits.

Finding whole-grain foods is easy, once you know what to look for. When you scan a product's ingredient list, whole-grain foods will list a whole grain -- such as wheat, oats, corn, or rice -- as the first ingredient. You'll know it's whole grain if the words "whole" or "whole grain" appear before the grain's name. Don't be fooled by a healthy-sounding product name, especially on breads: Terms like "stone-ground," "100% wheat,'' "cracked wheat," "multigrain," or "bran" do not necessarily mean the product is made from a whole grain.

Six to 11 servings of grains and starches a day are recommended, depending on your activity level and size. Does that seem like a lot? It isn't, really. Eight servings of starches in a day goes something like this: 1 cup cooked oatmeal at breakfast (2 servings) baked potato with chili beans at lunch (3 servings) and 1 cup of pasta and a slice of bread at dinner (3 servings).

Whatever your needs, be sure that you are eating whole grains whenever possible, rather than refined grains. These days you can even buy pasta made with a variety of whole grains, as well as high-protein soy flour.

Whole Wheat Nutrition And Facts

There are a number of different species of wheat that are cultivated around the world. The one thing that might hold true for all of them is that the less processing they have been made to go through, the better their nutritional profile. Whole wheat, just like other whole grains, is a rich source of dietary fibre and protein, which are two of three essential macro-nutrients required for a healthy body. It is a source of energy and it promotes satiety, when consumed in its most unprocessed form. Foods rich in dietary fibre are good for the gut and they may also help reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes, hypertensive disorder etc.

Healthy diet: Whole wheat flour

Your Whole Grain Line-Up

If you're ready to go brown, whole-wheat bread is a great place to start. But don't stop there.

Here are nine common whole-grain foods that you'll probably find at your supermarket:

  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Rye flour
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur (steamed and dried cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa

And don't think that cooking them has to be difficult and time-consuming. Here are a couple of easy (and yummy) ways to prepare some whole-grain favorites.

What Is a Whole Grain?

Next time your kids want a snack, look to whole grains. They not only are nutritious but also delicious!

Whole grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm (refined grains only contain the endosperm). The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing and your hair shiny. Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, or whole-grain pastas, breads and cereals are some whole-grain foods. When reading food labels, look for the words "whole grain" in the ingredient list. Also, choose products high in fiber with fewer added sugars.

Be a savvy consumer when buying whole grains &mdash words like multi-grain, stone-ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain and bran don't necessarily indicate a whole-grain food. Color also is not a reliable way to pick a whole-grain product. Sometimes molasses or other added ingredients give a food that nice brown color.

There are many tasty kid-tested whole-grain snack options. Half of a whole-grain pita pocket stuffed with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices with a dash of cinnamon is a great small bite. Or, for kids to eat on the run, combine ½ cup ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts for an on-the-go snack.

Did you know that many schools serve whole-grain options? Guidelines that schools try to follow, include:

  • Offering whole grains with at least 8 grams or more per serving.
  • Buying products that include the FDA-approved whole-grain health claim on its packaging.
  • Making sure that product ingredient lists state whole grains first.

Try swapping out refined grains and white breads and pastas for whole-grain varieties. To gradually introduce whole grains to your family, you can combine whole-grain foods and the refined grain foods they&rsquore used to until everyone&rsquos palate has adjusted to whole grains. Aim to make at least half of a day&rsquos grains whole grains.

How to Identify Whole Grains

Think you can identify something with whole grain by color? Think again. Bread, for example, can be brown because of molasses or other ingredients, not necessarily because it contains whole grains. This is why it&rsquos so important to get into the habit of reading nutrition labels. For most whole grain products you&rsquoll see the words &ldquowhole&rdquo or &ldquowhole grain&rdquo first on the ingredient list.

Here are some common whole grain foods:

  • Whole wheat
  • Graham flour
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole oats
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Whole grain corn
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain barley

Are You Getting Enough?

The AHA recommends that at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains. Here are some examples of a serving of whole grains:

  • 1 slice whole-grain bread (such as 100% whole-wheat bread)
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal
  • 1&frasl2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta
  • 5 whole-grain crackers
  • 3 cups unsalted, air-popped popcorn
  • 1 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla

Also, try to get your fiber from foods rather than supplements. The FDA recommends 25 grams of fiber each day for a 2,000 calorie diet. Your need may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Not a fan of grains? Fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and peas can all be good sources of dietary fiber, too.

And that&rsquos all you ever wanted to know about whole grains and fiber.