Are Whole Grains Bad for You?

There are a lot of controversies surrounding the consumption of grains. Some experts are of the view that people have just started eating grains about 10,000 years ago and the time is too short. But others argue that grains are already the foundation of food supply and an indispensable part of diet. Whole grains are one type of grains. Then can you eat whole grains?

Are Whole Grains Bad for You?

Under normal circumstances, whole grains are not bad for you. There is no need to eliminate whole grains from your diet. But you should avoid eating them when you are gluten intolerant. Here are some common negative beliefs of whole grains. Read to learn if they are true or not.

1.   Whole Grains Are Newly Introduced to the Diet

Experts believe that grains were not consumed about 10,000 years ago, which is the reason why some humans still lack the ability to properly digest and utilize whole grains. That is not true though. While the grains were not there for the majority of human history, it does not mean humans do not have the ability to digest them in the first place.

2.   Gluten Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Gluten is a type of protein found in whole grains that can cause allergic reactions in people. It may cause weight gain, water retention, memory issues, fatigue, and even chronic serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. If you really think your symptoms are due to gluten intolerance, you may certainly want to try a gluten free diet to see the results.

3.   Whole Grains Can Cause Diabetes and Obesity

This is a common reason that makes you ask "are whole grains bad for you?" The argument occurs because grains cause a spike in insulin that overtime leads to obesity and diabetes. This may be true in case of processed grains but whole grains cause much less insulin release. So eating whole grains is not likely to cause diabetes and obesity.

4.   Whole Grains Can Contribute to Osteoporosis and Bone Weakness

Some experts believe that due to the presence of a chemical called phytic acid, grains will bind to calcium and eliminate it from the GI tract. This in turn will cause osteoporosis and bone weakness. Studies have now confirmed that phytic acid has nothing to do with calcium absorption and therefore does not affect bone density.

5.   Whole Grains Contain Antinutrients

Are whole grains bad for you? Those who believe grains are unhealthy often base their argument on the fact that grains contain antinutrients that affect digestion and allow the absorption of toxic materials in the body. The truth is that not all antinutrients are detrimental to good health. Lectins, phytic acid, amylase inhibitors, phenolic compounds, and saponins may actually help reduce the blood glucose level in the body. 

What Are the Benefits of Eating Whole Grains?

You already know the reasons why some people think grains are bad for your health. Most of those arguments are not based on facts; however, there are facts to support the claim that whole grains are actually beneficial.

1.   Reduced Mortality Rates

Some researchers have found that people who have included whole grains in their diet are likely to live longer. In other words, whole grains help reduce mortality rate.

2.   Lowered Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

With whole grains included in your diet, you can lower your risk of developing type-2 diabetes. There will be a 30% reduction in the risk of developing type-2 diabetes if you eat more than 5g of fiber from whole-grain cereals every day.

3.   Proper Weight Management

Including whole grain foods in your diet not only lowers your body weight but helps you maintain a healthy weight over time. Eating 2-3 servings of whole grain foods daily may help you have lower body mass index and keep you from putting on a lot of weight.

4.   Lowered Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Research shows that you are less likely to develop this condition if your diet includes whole grains and cereal fiber.

5.   Low Blood Cholesterol Levels

Regular consumption of whole-grain foods may help keep your blood cholesterol levels in control. Studies have found that simply adding oats to a low-fat diet may help you reduce your blood cholesterol by 8-9mg/dL in three weeks. Oats contain antioxidants that help lower your blood cholesterol levels by preventing blood cells from sticking to artery walls.

6.   Decreased Blood Pressure

Are whole grains bad for you? No, when it comes to blood pressure. Studies show that eating whole grain foods may significantly reduce blood pressure and improve other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. 

7.   Lowered Risk of Cancer

Over 40 studies conducted on 20 types of cancer have found that there will be a significant reduction in your cancer risk if you regularly eat whole grains.

Precautions for Eating Whole Grains

Be sure to read ingredient labels before buying whole grain foods. You should be buying something with whole grains listed at the top. Some common examples of whole grains are brown rice, barley, oatmeal, bulgur, buckwheat, and popcorn. Do not overlook the information about the sugar and calorie content of the food.

It is important to bear in mind that if you have included lots of whole grain foods in your diet, you may want to increase your folic acid intake since most whole grain foods do not have enough folate. So you should take a folic acid supplement, or eat more veggies, fruits, and legumes to get enough folic acid. Folic acid is especially important during pregnancy.

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