Whole grains supply our bodies with valuable vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber, with little to no fat, and are high in selenium. In short, whole grains can give a boost to our immune system. Whole grain, fiber-rich, low-sodium and low-fat diets help our bodies to lower blood pressure, normalize blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and help maintain healthy bowel function.
Whole grains, which are rich in antioxidants, must contain three parts of a grain to be considered whole. These parts are bran, germ and endosperm. bran, is the tough outer layer of the grain that contains dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins and minerals; germ is the core or heart of the grain filled with protein, fat (if any), E and B vitamins, minerals and fiber; endosperm is the starchy middle layer filled with carbohydrates, protein and vitamin B. In processed grains, this is usually the only part of the grain.
Sources of whole grains include:
- Whole wheat flour – high in vitamin E
- Whole grain barley
- Oats – high in zinc
- Brown rice or wild rice
- Wheat berries – high in vitamin E
Whole grains, which are rich in viscous fiber, lower our bad cholesterol by binding with cholesterol-containing bile in our stomachs, then carry the bad stuff out with our bile.
If you are trying to lower your blood pressure and reduce your cholesterol, always select whole grain cereals, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat flour, brown rice, oatmeal and oat bran instead of white flours or refined foods. Go for the most fiber-dense foods.