By Nadiya Merchant
Facing health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease? Here’s how a whole grain diet can help manage some of your health issues. All of us are aware that grains are consumed worldwide as staple food. But have you ever realized the important roles these grains play in your diet? Have a look at the typical Indian meal and you’ll know! You will realize that, from the ubiquitous dal-rice to the spongy idlis, all of these Indian food items are prepared using one grain or the other. However, with increasing awareness and demand for a healthy diet, more and more people are turning to whole grains.
Yes, you heard it right! But before we delve deeper into the benefits of these tiny beads of life, let us first understand what whole grains are and how do they differ from the conventional refined grains.
To understand this, it is important to breakdown the very structure of a grain. A grain comprises of three parts, namely the bran, the germ and the endosperm.
A whole grain is the one which has all of these original parts intact.
An example of it will be whole wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice while refined grains are the ones, which have their bran, and germs removed partly or fully through a process called milling. Milling is done with a view of enhancing the texture, sensory properties and increasing its shelf life.
So why should one include whole grains in the diet? Here are a few things to consider:
The reason why many people have taken to whole grains is the nutritive value they offer. Apart from carbohydrates and proteins, whole grains are also a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients and most of the time, brans are also a source of good fat.
Chronic diseases no more!
Apart from the rich nutritive advantages they offer, whole grains come with a host of health benefits too. They can help keep cardiovascular diseases at bay as it helps in reducing the blood lipids significantly. Type 2 diabetes, which is widely prevalent in India, can be prevented and managed by consuming whole grains.
Another grave health hazard that Indians face is cancer. Regular consumption of whole grains is linked to a variety of positive health outcomes with respect to specific cancers. For example, as per the study published in the British Medical Journal (2011), the total and cereal fibre consumption is associated with significant risk reduction for colorectal cancer.
The study states that each 10g increase in cereal fibre is estimated to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 10%. The dietary fibre along with the bioactive components exert a protective effect thus keeping us away from major chronic diseases and other health issues.
Eat right stay light!
Along with managing health issues like diabetes, whole grains also play a very important role in weight management. The high fibre content of the whole grains slows gastric emptying thus delaying hunger which leads to better control over your food intake.
While you are reading this, terms like ‘gluten-free’ diet would have possibly crossed your mind. There are many gluten-free whole grains such as sorghum, millets, oats, buckwheat, amaranth etc. available in the market, which would also provide the above health benefits. So, include a variety of whole grains in your diet to avail their health benefits.
With so much on offer, it is hard to ignore how strong a case do whole grains make for inclusion in our daily diet. If you are convinced about the benefits of a whole grain diet – what are you waiting for? Integrate it into your lifestyle starting now!
(Nadiya Merchant is Lead – Nutrition & Scientific Affairs, Kellogg South Asia. Views expressed are personal.)