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Whole grains: A list of the best benefits and risks to health?

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 Wheat, rice, ... And if you put whole grains in your menus to change perennial white rice or pasta. They are easy to cook and excellent for a good food balance and for health.

Whole grains unlike refined cereals (such as white rice or white wheat) have kept their outer shell very rich in fiber and their germ. You can find rice and whole wheat, but there is a large selection of other unrefined cereals.

Whole grains A list of the best benefits and risks to health


What are the health benefits?

Whole grains are a source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds. Compared to refined products, complete products contain more complex carbohydrates and fewer simple carbohydrates. By avoiding excessive variations in blood sugar (lower glycemic index), they are more satietogenic, thus limiting cravings between meals. They are therefore interesting not only for weight loss, but also in the control of diabetes. Other constituents of interest in cereals are magnesium and antioxidants such as vitamin E, phytic acid, and selenium, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the sound (husk) of whole grains is rich in fiber. There are two types of fibers. Insoluble fiber that, by water absorption, will increase the food bolus and accelerate transit, thus fighting against constipation. And soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol and especially LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Indeed the latter, by their action on the increase of gastric emptying and the absorption of micronutrients will act on cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterolemia and blood pressure. Finally, a diet high in fibre, such as whole grains, is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

List of whole grains 

Grain 

Wheat, including spelt, farro, einkorn, khorasan (Kamut), durum wheat 

Rice, including brown, black, red, and other var rice, colored rice 

Barley, including naked barley, but not pearl barley 

Maize 

Rye

Oats, including naked oats 

Millets 

Sorghum 

Teff 

Triticale 

Wild rice 

Canary Islander 

Lacryma-Jobi 

Fonio, black fonio black, Asian millet 

Pseudo cereals 

Amaranth 

Buckwheat (or black wheat) 

Quinoa 

Which are the best for your health? 

All whole grains are interesting for health. The best for a balanced diet is therefore to vary the different types of whole grains. Among the most common and renowned for their benefits are:


Oatmeal, rich in beta-glucan, insoluble fiber that promotes intestinal transit. They also reduce glucose absorption and act directly on cholesterol levels. To be consumed in a bowl of milk in the morning or to sprinkle on salads.

Whole wheat has important nutritional qualities: minerals, fiber, proteins. A real source of energy, it contains few sugars and fats. 

Quinoa is a seed, not a cereal. However, it can be consumed as such. It is a low-fat food and therefore low in calories. It contains many essential amino acids, essential for the proper functioning of the body. Gluten-free, quinoa remains very digestible. It can be consumed in salads to replace semolina or prepared in the form of risottos, couscous, or stuffing.

Complete rye is low in calories and very rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. It helps to better control your cholesterol levels and prevent certain digestive disorders, such as constipation. Its satiating effect is also a good ally in weight regulation.


What are the dangers?

Whole grains contain whole grains and are therefore difficult to digest. The fibers they contain can cause in the fragile intestines or when consumed in excess, problems of bloating (fermentation and production of gas from undigested fibers) or diarrhea (acceleration of transit). Another disadvantage is that all whole grains contain phytic acid (anti-nutrient) that blocks the absorption of minerals by the small intestine. These phytates can affect the assimilation of trace elements essential for growth such as zinc or iron, the deficiency of which can lead to the fragility of the immune system. Different methods can be combined to eliminate these anti-nutrients, such as soaking, germination, or fermentation of grains. Finally, whole grains are more exposed to pesticides that concentrate on the grain envelope. In order to limit their presence, preference should be given to organic whole grains. 


What nutritional composition?

Whole grains are starchy foods so mainly rich in carbohydrates (especially complex or slow). They contain an average of 50%. They constitute a significant intake of protein (10% on average) and are low in lipids with only 1 to 2%. 


How many calories?

With an average caloric intake of around 300 kcal raw and 150 kcal cooked, they represent a significant energy source, hence the interest of prioritizing their quality.



How much should you eat per day?

The amount of whole grains recommended per day is that of starchy or an intake at each meal that varies according to the energy needs of each. The portion of starchy represents about 1/3 (or 4 to 6 tablespoons) of the contributions of a balanced plate but will be increased in case of significant energy expenditure such as those of athletes for example.


Which ones are gluten-free?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley or spelled and triticale. All other whole grains or not are therefore gluten-free. 


In what forms are they better for health?


Again, for a healthy diet, you have to eat 'everything a little, and a little bit of everything, so the best thing is to vary the types and forms of whole grains: oatmeal or wholemeal bread/ rye/spelled/sourdough... At breakfast and pasta or other cereals alternating with other meals.

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