Benefits of Whole Grains

Don't Ditch the Carbs! Here's Why

Many people have found success eliminating carbs to lose weight, but ditching bread, pasta, and cooked whole grains means missing out on valuable vitamins and minerals. Not only that, but since a person can't (and shouldn't) sustain a carb-free diet forever, you'll most likely gain the weight back once you reintroduce these forbidden foods. While skipping out on white flour is a brilliant idea (your body will thank you), here are a few reasons to go ahead and enjoy complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread.

I'm Shrinking!

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must include whole grains. They offer the fiber you need to feel fuller longer, keeping hunger at bay, which translates to fewer daily calories consumed. In the morning, forget the unhealthy carbs like bagels, and enjoy a bowl of hearty oatmeal with berries or this apple cinnamon quinoa breakfast bake. Snack on popcorn or homemade granola bars, and for dinner, go for a side of cooked brown rice instead of regular pasta.

Bye-Bye, Belly Bloat

The fiber in whole grains also keeps your digestive system happily flowing, so you can wave goodbye to cramps, gas, and that uncomfortable bloated feeling that makes you feel sluggish and tired. Be warned, however, that if you're not used to eating whole grains, suddenly inundating your system with millet and buckwheat can actually lead to more bloating. Go easy in the beginning, gradually adding these fibrous foods to your diet. Add a scoop of cooked brown rice to your salad or mix cooked barley into your brothy soups. Eating whole grains along with foods your body is used to is sure to improve digestion; drinking plenty of water can also help your body tolerate the increase in fiber.

What Cramps?

If you suffer from PMS, go ahead and take a bite of that whole-wheat sandwich. Studies show that B vitamins can decrease PMS symptoms; in one study, the risk of PMS was 35 percent lower for women with high intakes of riboflavin (B2) and 25 percent lower for those with high intakes of thiamine (B1). Whole grains and whole wheat products are high in B vitamins, so you should regularly include these foods in your diet for symptom relief.

Cheers to My Health

Feel good twirling a forkful of whole wheat pasta; eating whole grains is also associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and certain cancers, as well as lower blood pressure. Whole grains also offer vitamin E, which boosts your immune system and encourages healthy skin and eyes.

Great sources of whole grains include oats, rice, barley, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and popcorn. Whole wheat is also healthy, but be a mindful label reader and make sure the ingredients list on your whole wheat bread says "whole wheat flour" instead of enriched.

Source: Thinkstock
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