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Poor old carbs, they’ve had a rough time lately. They’ve been vilified as some kind of evil nutrient that makes us fat and unhealthy. In the case of whole grains, this coudn’t be further from the truth!
Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet, and I only need one (see point #10), but if you need a few more, here are ten damn good reasons to enjoy them:
- They’re a great source of fibre which can help lower cholesterol and support gut health.
- They are an excellent source of carbohydrates, which are the body’s preferred energy source.
- They may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- They are a surprising source of plant-based protein.
- They help with post-workout muscle recovery.
- They contain iron, manganese, B vitamins and various other health-promoting phytochemicals.
- They may reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.
- They can reduce systemic inflammation.
- They help you feel good, thanks to their tryptophan content.
- They taste delicious!
How to enjoy whole grains
🥣 Eat oatmeal porridge or overnight oats for breakfast using steel-cut or rolled oats. Switch things up by using quinoa or buckwheat flakes for a nice change.
🌮 Choose soft corn tortillas instead of white wheat ones.
🥖 Swap refined white bread and crackers for whole-grain varieties.
🍿 Snack on air-popped corn for a satisfying alternative to chips/crisps.
🍚 Try ancient grains like spelt, farro and freekeh in place of rice, or go for whole-grain or wild rice.
🍲 Add quinoa or barley to soups and stews.
🍝 Pick whole-grain pasta over pasta made from white flour.
🍪 Use whole-grain flour to make homemade treats. Rye flour is great for brownies!
🥗 Sprinkle some toasted buckwheat groats on top of salads or fruit to add some crunch.
🍤 Try using quinoa flakes in place of breadcrumbs.
What about gluten?
The true number of people who suffer from celiac disease, wheat allergy or NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity) is only around 2-3% of the population by contrast, around 30% of people restrict or avoid gluten in their diets.
There is no current evidence that eating gluten results inflammation in healthy individuals – in fact, it’s quite the opposite; diets high in whole grains have been shown to reduce markers of systemic inflammation.
Just try to avoid ultra-processed white wheat products and opt for grains in their whole form and whole grain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice instead.
Different whole grains to try
- Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis – PMID: 9925120
- 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 – PMID: 27301975
- PMID: 22747841 – Lefevre M, Jonnalagadda S. Effect of whole grains on markers of subclinical inflammation. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(7):387–96.