- Heart health. Heart-healthy diets rich in whole grain foods can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Reduce cancer risk. Low fat diets rich in fiber-containing grain products, fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, particularly of the stomach and colon.
- Manage diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends whole grain as part of a diabetic diet.
- Keep you regular. Fiber from whole grains promotes regularity and keeps the intestines working smoothly to help maintain good digestive health.
- Weight management. A growing body of evidence supports that people who eat more whole grain tend to have healthier body weights and gain less weight over time than those who don’t.
*(Liu S et al. Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:920–927.)
In a 12-year study of more than 70,000 nurses, those who ate more whole grain weighed less than those who ate less whole grain. *
- Carbohydrates. The brain, heart and nervous system require a constant supply of carbohydrates.
- B vitamins. They help your body use energy from the food you eat, in addition to supporting good nutrition.
- Trace minerals. Iron, zinc, and copper are also part of whole grain.
- Fiber. Fiber is important for normal bowel function. It can also play a role in weight management.
- Phytonutrients. They may enhance the body’s natural line of defenses.
- Antioxidants. The vitamins and other substances that protect cells from damage.
- Magnesium. It is essential for bone building and also helps our bodies use the energy stored in our muscles.
- Plant Sterols. They may play a role in lowering cholesterol and heart health.
Each individual nutrient offers important benefits, but together they perform most powerfully.
Sure, fiber is important for your health. And many whole grain cereals are high in fiber. But fiber is only part of the whole grain story.
- Fiber is only one of the many nutrients found in whole grain. While some whole grain foods are not high in fiber, they still provide the whole grain package with its health-promoting benefits.
- Different types of whole grain (wheat, oats, corn, rice, barley, etc.) have different amounts of fiber.
- "High fiber” grain food may not necessarily be whole grain. For example, many high-fiber foods, such as bran cereals, get their fiber from the bran but do not include the nutrient-rich germ portion of the grain.
Don’t rely on just the grams of fiber per serving when looking for whole grain: the health benefits of whole grains can’t be pinpointed to one particular component of the grain. It’s the “whole grain package” that makes the difference.