Whole grain information

Whole Grains are starches, a type of carbohydrate.

Grains are divided into 2 subgroups,

  • Whole Grains
  • Refined Grains.

According to the American Diabetic Association, A grain contains three parts:

“A grain contains three parts:

  • bran
  • germ
  • endosperm”


  • The bran is the outer hard shell of the grain.
  • The bran contains the most fiber and most of the B vitamins and minerals.


  • The germ is another layer. It packed with nutrients including essential fatty acids and vitamin E.


  • The endosperm is the soft part in the center of the grain. It contains the starch.

Whole grain nutrition

  • Whole grain means that the entire grain kernel is in the food. This is better than eating just the starch as the bran and germ layers contain the nutrients


  • May help reduce blood cholesterol levels,  lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Fiber helps regulate bowel function.


Magnesium helps build bones and release energy from muscles

Selenium helps protect against oxidation or cell breakdown.


  • Iron helps bring oxygen to parts of the body.
  • Whole grains are an important source of iron for people who do not consume enough meat.

Vitamin B

  • According to Choose my Plate, “The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin play a key role in metabolism – they help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system.”
  • Folate is another B vitamin. It is important for women who are pregnant as it has ben shown to decrease the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development. -Reference Choose my Plate

Protein: Whole grains provide several grams of protein per serving.

Antioxidants -According to the Whole grain counsel, whole grains contains disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants.

According to The American Institute of Cancer Research,

  • “Polyphenols occur in whole grains, including phenolic acids and flavonoids.
  • Lignans are a polyphenol compound.
  • Saponins are compounds being studied for their anticancer properties.
  • Alkylresorcinols are phenolic lipids found only in the outer parts of wheat and rye grains.
  • Phytic acid, present in grains and legumes, is being studied in the prevention of cancer.
  • Protease inhibitors may prevent cancer cells from spreading.
  • Tocotrienols are compounds similar to the tocopherols.”

Refined grains nutrition

  • Refined grains are lower in fiber.
  • They are also lower in nutrients like vitamin B but most refined grains are enriched with vitamins, that is the vitamins are added back in again after processing.

Whole grain foods

According to the Whole Grains Council, examples of whole grains include,

  • amaranth
  • barley
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • corn
  • farro
  • einkorn
  • farro
  • freekeh
  • Kaniwa
  • millet
  • oats
  • popcorn
  • quinoa
  • rye
  • sorghum
  • sorghum
  • spelt
  • teff
  • triticale
  • whole wheat flour
  • wild rice

whole grains, depression informationWhat is the recommended daily amount of whole Grains?

  • 2011 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest 3 servings of whole grains daily.
  • The average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of Americans never eat whole grains at all. -Whole Grains Council

Whole grains and heart disease

  • Whole grains can help reduce the heart disease.
  • “This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grain to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.”
  • Reference BMJ. 2016 Jun 14;353:i2716. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i2716. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Aune D1, Keum N2, Giovannucci E3, Fadnes LT4, Boffetta P5, Greenwood DC6, Tonstad S7, Vatten LJ8, Riboli E9, Norat T9.

Whole grains and blood pressure

  • Whole grains have been shown to help lower blood pressure.
  • Both diet groups lost weight and body fat and lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), total cholesterol, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. The scientists also found that the whole grain diet reduced diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in the blood pressure reading) by 5.8 mm Hg, “or an additional 4.2 mm Hg beyond any change attributable to weight loss.”
  • The Journal of Nutrition. 2016 Oct 19. pii: jn230508. [Epub ahead of print] (Kirwan JP et al.)

Whole grains and obesity 

  • Whole grains can help control your weight.
  • A higher intake of whole grains (about three servings per day) was associated with lower BMI and central adiposity. In addition, people who consume more whole grains are likely to have a healthier lifestyle as fewer of them smoke, they exercise more frequently and they tend to have lower fat and higher fiber intakes.

    Reference Public Health Nutr. 2008 Jun;11(6):554-63. Epub 2007 Nov 16. Whole-grain intake as a marker of healthy body weight and adiposity.Harland JI1, Garton LE.

Whole grains and diabetes 

  •  Whole grains have been shown to decrease the risk of diabetes.

    “Our results support public health recommendations to replace refined grains with whole grains and suggest that at least two servings of whole grains per day should be consumed to reduce type 2 diabetes risk.”

    Eur J Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;28(11):845-58. doi: 10.1007/s10654-013-9852-5. Epub 2013 Oct 25. Whole grain and refined grain consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies.

Whole grains and inflammation 

  • Whole grains can help reduce inflammation which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
  • “The reduction in inflammatory mortality associated with habitual whole-grain intake was larger than that previously reported for coronary heart disease and diabetes. Because a variety of phytochemicals are found in whole grains that may directly or indirectly inhibit oxidative stress, and because oxidative stress is an inevitable consequence of inflammation, we suggest that oxidative stress reduction by constituents of whole grain is a likely mechanism for the protective effect.”
  • Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1606-14. Whole-grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk of noncardiovascular, noncancer death attributed to inflammatory diseases in the Iowa Women’s Health Study.

Whole grains and cancer

  • The results are equivocal, more studies are needed.
  • There is evidence that consumption of foods containing dietary fiber decreases the risk of colorectal cancer in prior studies.
  • “Our study does not support the findings of a previous meta-analysis, which indicated that there may be an inverse association between the consumption of whole-grains and the risk of CRC. However, in subsite analyses, whole-grain bread consumption tended to be weakly associated with a lower risk of proximal colon cancer, and this warrants further investigation.”
  • Nutrients. 2016 Jan; 8(1): 40.
    Published online 2016 Jan 13. doi:  10.3390/nu8010040
    PMCID: PMC4728653Consumption of Whole-Grain Bread and Risk of Colorectal Cancer among Norwegian Women (the NOWAC Study)Toril Bakken,1,* Tonje Braaten,1 Anja Olsen,2 Cecilie Kyrø,2 Eiliv Lund,1 and Guri Skeie1

Adding  whole grains to your diet

  • Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Create a whole grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, wild rice, brown rice, broth, and spices.
  • Try rolled oats in pancakes and muffins
  • Use unsweetened whole grain cereal as breading for chicken, fish, veal or eggplant.

Things to keep in mind,

  • Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products.

Do you eat any whole grains?

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