< back to the wellness blog

December 17, 2019 • Healthy Eating & Nutrition

The Health Benefits of Eating Whole Grains

cereal whole grain snack fruit

  • A randomized, controlled clinical trial found that including 3 servings of whole grain foods daily reduced systolic blood pressure on par with prescription drugs and could reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke by at least 15% and 25%, respectively.  (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct 2010)
  • Amongst 4,497 young adults followed for 20 years, those consuming the most magnesium were 47% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intakes.  Whole grains are one of the very best and most widely available food sources of magnesium.  (Diabetes Care, Aug 2010)
  • Among 2,834 adults followed as part of the ongoing Framingham Heart Study, those consuming 3 or more servings of whole grains a day, while limiting their intakes of refined grains (like white bread, white rice, etc) to less than one serving a day, had significantly less fat in their bellies.  Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the type of fat that leads to heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure and insulin resistance.  (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sept 2010)

Including whole grains in your diet is one of the tastiest and most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, many cancers, and obesity. For best results include 3 servings of whole grains every day.

Here are 7 easy ways to get 3 servings a day. (1 serving is 1/2 cup prepared whole grains like oatmeal or brown rice; 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread; a “serving” (check nutrition label) of any 100% whole grain cereal; 1 oz of 100% whole grain crackers/snacks):

  1. 1 cup of prepared oatmeal for breakfast; 1/2 cup brown rice at dinner.
  1. A “serving” of 100% whole wheat/grain cereal for breakfast; a sandwich at lunch made with 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain bread.
  1. One 100% whole wheat bagel at breakfast; 1 oz (std serving) of whole grain tortilla chips for a snack.
  1. 1/2 cup stone ground whole grain grits (not standard grits) at breakfast; 1, 6″ 100% whole wheat tortilla at lunch; 1/2 cup barley at dinner (great in soup and stews).
  1. 3/4 cup prepared oatmeal at breakfast; 3/4 cup quinoa at dinner.
  1. 1/2 cup homemade granola (get my recipe) at breakfast; 1 serving (1oz) of 100% whole wheat crackers as a snack (100% whole wheat Wheat Thins, Ak-Mak, Rye Crisps, Triscuits); 1/2 cup brown rice at dinner.
  1. 1, 100% whole wheat English muffin at breakfast; 3/4 cup Quinoa at dinner.

If you want to be adventurous try the “other” more exotic whole grains – farro, kamut, spelt, amaranth and kasha.

If diabetic, pre-diabetic, overweight or trying to lose weight, physically intact grains are best. In other words, avoid breads and crackers.