Health Benefits of Whole Grains as We Work to Fight COVID Variants

BY SANDRA GUY

As we focus even more on our immunity and personal health, remember to put whole grains at the top of your dietary list.

September — Whole Grains Month — is the perfect time to update and recharge your diet as COVID variants rage on.

Whole grains offer a complete package of health benefits, unlike refined grains, which are stripped of valuable nutrients in the refining process.

Whole grains are naturally high in fiber, helping you feel full and satisfied — which makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Whole grains are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.

All whole grain kernels contain three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

Each section comprises health-promoting nutrients. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer that supplies B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds in plants that have been researched for their role in disease prevention. The germ is the core of the seed where growth occurs; it is rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. The endosperm is the interior layer that holds carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals.

These components have various effects on our bodies.

Bran and fiber slow the breakdown of starch into glucose — maintaining a steady blood sugar rather than causing sharp spikes.

Fiber helps lower cholesterol as well as move waste through the digestive tract.

Fiber may also help prevent the formation of small blood clots that can trigger heart attacks or strokes.

Phytochemicals and essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper found in whole grains may protect against some cancers.

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