Published: 08/31/2005 - Updated: 08/13/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
Whole grains like brown rice, wheat, oats and rye integral not only taste delicious but are also very beneficial for health because they reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Recent large-scale epidemiological investigations have shown that regular consumption of whole grains may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers by up to 30%. The international symposium on whole food and health that was held in Finland in June 2001 concluded that taking more foods can improve health.
For centuries, grains like wheat, rice, corn, oats and rye have been key elements of the diet. They are consumed worldwide in a variety of products, from pasta in Italy until the porridge in Scotland. However, most products are made from refined grains. This means that the outer parts of the grain: the germ and bran are removed, grinding cereals in milling, consisting mainly of starch, which is milled to white flour.
Among the nutrients contained in whole grains are vitamin E, vitamin B complex and minerals like selenium, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Moreover, these grains provide protein, complex carbohydrates and protective substances such as lignans (phytoestrogens plant properties against heart disease and cancer).
Protection against cancer and heart disease
The real power of the grains is based on its protective effects against coronary heart disease and certain cancers. In a prospective study in which they interviewed more than 34,000 women aged between 55 and 69 years conducted in Iowa, USA, concluded that those subjects who took at least one serving of whole grains per day had a significantly lower dying from coronary heart disease than those who only consumed other foods. Other data from a study of nurses showed that women taking 2.7 servings of foods per day had a risk of coronary heart disease 30% lower than those who only took 0.13 servings per day. Moreover, it is believed that regular consumption of whole grains also reduces the risk of stroke and type II diabetes.
The protective effects of whole grain foods are extended to cancer, especially colon cancer. Whole grains are rich in fermentable carbohydrates, the intestinal flora into short chain fatty acids. These acids reduce the activity of certain factors that cause cancer. Moreover, the fiber content of whole grains increase the volume of stool and involving carcinogens, which are well removed from the intestine before they can cause problems.
Beware of phytates
Although whole grains are very beneficial to health, it is advisable to not eating excessive amounts, especially if they are raw, such as unprocessed bran. This is because the fiber, which is usually removed during milling, contains substances called phytates. Phytates decrease the absorption and utilization by the body of various minerals such as calcium and zinc. Enzymes of yeast (in bread) and food processing methods that require heat, such as that used for cereal-based breakfast bran, destroyed almost all the phytates. For most people, the doses of phytates in the diet do not pose a problem, but people who eat large amounts of whole grains may need supplements of minerals.
The U.S. Agency for Food and Drug Control has recognized the importance of foods and other products of plant origin in the prevention of heart disease and some cancers. For this reason, it has authorized such beneficial properties are shown in the packaging of foods such as in advertising. The agency also has allowed the addition of specific indications in the case of oats, and products containing it whole grain foods as bread and breakfast cereals, or brown rice crackers which are rare in the Western diet. An increased consumption of such an initiative would be nice and wise, from the viewpoint of nutrition, which is accessible to all people. Just taking a serving of whole grains at breakfast or begin to consume bread, rice and pasta improves health and reduces the risk of certain diseases.
References of VTT Symposium on Wholegrain and human health (2001) Proceedings of the International Symposium, Finland, June 13-15, 2001. Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT), pp. 1-145
Source: European Food Information
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