How to Eat Whole Grains for Health

Whole grains are unprocessed seeds of plants that haven't had their bran or germ removed. They contain a higher amount of complex carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, selenium and potassium. Whole grains include popcorn, buckwheat, flax, quinoa and more. Most people eat processed, refined grains, such as bread, muffins and other baked goods that have fewer nutritional benefits. Making daily decisions to choose whole grains over refined grains can have a profound effect on certain medical health conditions. In general, 1/2 cup or 16 g of a whole grain is considered a serving. Read more to find out how to eat whole grains for health.


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    Replace refined grains with whole grains to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Whole grains can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, insulin levels and triglycerides, all of which can lead to cardiovascular disease. The following are easy ways to replace refined grains with whole grains:
    • Eat bran flakes, shredded wheat or oats for breakfast.
    • Substitute whole grain breads for refined grain breads in both toast and cereals. Read the labels carefully to see what percentage of the bread was made with refined grains. For example, some brands of refined bread are colored brown to appear to be made with whole grain. White breads can be made with whole grains.
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    Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating 2 to 3 servings of whole grains every day.
    • Replace white rice with brown rice or bulgar wheat. Studies have shown that both men and women can reduce the risk of diabetes by at least 11 percent when they replace white rice 2 to 3 times per day with a whole grain.
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    Reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by increasing the fiber content of your diet. You can do this in a number of ways. Whole grains are a great way to increase fiber, but you should pay attention to increasing both insoluble and soluble fiber.
    • Whole grains that are insoluble forms of fiber are whole wheat, bran, seeds, barley, brown rice, bulgar and couscous. They do not dissolve in water and they have a laxative effect on the bowels. Insoluble fiber is thought to have the same effects of decreasing colorectal cancer as reducing coronary disease.
    • Whole grains that are soluble forms of fiber include oatmeal, flax seeds and oat flakes. This soluble fiber fills with water and forms a gel that helps food to move more easily through your colon and entire digestive system.
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    Reduce your risk of diverticular disease by increasing both insoluble and soluble fiber. Diverticular disease starts when little weak pockets are created in your intestines. They become easily inflamed and can burst.
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    Replacing refined foods with whole grains is believed to increase overall health because it helps to reduce the amount of processed foods that are consumed. Cookies, cakes, some cereals and more are filled with processed foods that contain fewer nutrients than whole grains.
    • Avoid anything that says it contains refined sugars and grains. This switch can lead to weight loss as well as reduction in the risk of disease. The following are good ways to sneak in a few servings of less-processed whole grains into your diet:
    • Place barley or wild rice in soups and casseroles.
    • Use rolled oats and bran instead of dry bread crumbs.
    • Replace white flour tortillas with whole wheat versions. Make sure to read the packaging to be sure they are high in fiber and whole grains.
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    Start an anti-inflammatory diet that includes whole grains. Some doctors, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, have developed food pyramids that they believe help people to reduce inflammation from arthritis and other conditions. 3 to 5 servings of whole grains is included in this pyramid.


  • It is a good idea to rinse whole grains such as oats, quinoa, lentils and bulgar to remove any chemicals or germs created in packaging the grains. Use a strainer with a very fine mesh to ensure you do not lose the grains.
  • In order to shorten the cooking time of some whole grains such as oats, lentils and quinoa, you can soak them overnight. They will heat and cook quickly on the stovetop.
  • Whole grains can be cooked in a rice or pressure cooker as well as on a stovetop.

Things You'll Need

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Seeds
  • Oatmeal

Article Info

Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating | Diet & Lifestyle