• Do you eat enough whole grains? Canada’s new food guide gives them a special place by recommending that Canadians eat some in sufficient quantities everyday. We should also consume enough protein, good fats, and lots of vegetables and fruits.

    Whole grain foods contain many essential nutrients: fibers, vitamins, minerals, etc. They can also help prevent many diseases such as colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

    What’s A Whole Grain?

    A whole grain is a cereal composed of three distinct parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. The refining process removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Therefore, refining removes most fibers, vitamins B and E, minerals, and antioxidants.

    This is why processed products usually contain less fibers unless other fibers such as inulin are added during the manufacturing process.

    What products have whole grains?

    They are mostly found in :

    • Cereal
    • Pseudo-cereal (such as quinoa)
    • Breads made with whole wheat flour
    • Crackers
    • Muffins
    • Whole oats
    • Whole-grain pastas
    • Brown and wild rice.

    But be cautious! Some foods don’t contain whole grains even if the packaging says otherwise. And the colour of the product is not a good indicator either. Instead, carefully read the list of ingredients and look for the words ” whole grains ” and ” whole “. And they should be in the first three ingredients.

    Whole wheat foods are not all made with whole grains, but they also have fibers.

    Health benefits of whole grains

    Studies have shown that whole grains have great health benefits, such as a significant reduction in risks of developing cardiovascular and cerebral vascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Indeed, a recent meta-analysis1Aune, D., Keum, N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., ... & Norat, T. (2016). 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. bmj, 353. revealed that consuming 28 g of whole grains daily reduced cardiovascular risks by 22%. Impressive!

    Whole grains’ ability to fight diseases comes from their unique mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers. A one ounce (28 g) portion of whole grains therefore contains :

    • 3 g of fibers
    • 69% of the manganese daily value (DV)
    • 15% of the phosphorus DV
    • 14% of the thiamin DV
    • 12% of the magnesium DV
    • 9% of the copper DV, and
    • 7% of the zinc and iron DV.

    Fibers : an essential component of whole grains

    Fibers are also associated with many health benefits. Among other things, they help regulate glycemia (blood sugar levels) and insulinemia (blood insulin levels), which are two risk factors of type 2 diabetes.

    Fibers in food increase the time required for mastication.

    Your brain can then send signals of satiety before you finish eating, which helps avoid overconsumption.

    Fiber consumption is associated with a better weight management.

    Fiber-rich foods are generally less caloric and contain less fats and added sugars, while also being more filling.

    Psst! Check out this article How to Choose the Best Bread in the Supermarket for more whole-grain bread options!