Whole grains provide about the same carbohydrates as refined grains. But, that is where the similarities end. Ounce for ounce and slice for slice, whole grains have 88% more fiber and magnesium, 62% more zinc, 72% more chromium, 96% more vitamin E, and 82% more vitamin B6. They also contain a wealth of phytonutrients, which are lost when grains are refined. Whole grains exert their health-protecting effects in a variety of ways. They contain compounds, such as fiber and oligosaccharides, that alter the gut environment in favor of health. They also are rich in antioxidants, such as trace minerals and phenolic compounds, and hormone-modulating phytoestrogens. Whole grains also help bind cancer-causing substances in the gut and help regulate the glycemic response, thus lowering the risk for diabetes. Research shows people who eat less refined grains and more whole grains have an easier time managing their weight and have a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more.
Americans currently average less than one serving of 100% whole grain a day. While three servings a day is recommended, six or more is optimal and is as easy as 100% whole grain cereal for breakfast, two slices of 100% whole wheat bread on a sandwich for lunch, brown rice at dinner, and 100% whole grain crackers as part of snacks. Photo credit: Michael May via Compfight