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4 health benefits of eating wholegrains

Eating wholegrains is associated with a wealth of health benefits, thanks to their high nutritional and fibre content. Here are four ways wholegrains can improve your health.

One small thing: Choose brown rice and wholewheat pasta instead of white rice and pasta when you prepare meals at home.

Much is made in the media about the "dangers" of carbohydrates, and there has been a marked increase in diets advocating a low-carb eating plan. Not all carbs are created equal, though.

While a high intake of refined grains is linked to health problems, eating wholegrains is associated with real health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. (Read more about what wholegrain is here.)

It is the nutritional content of wholegrains that delivers the health benefits. Wholegrains are not only rich in fibre but are also important sources of several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium).

Then there are the many types of plant compounds – including polyphenols, stanols and sterols – that play a role in preventing disease, too. Here are some of the health benefits derived from eating more wholegrains.

1. Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke

Almost one in every five deaths in South Africa is caused by heart disease, so it makes sense to include foods that will mitigate that risk in your diet. A study review suggests that eating three servings of about ½ a cup of wholegrains a day may lower your risk of heart disease by approximately 22%.

2. Reduces your risk of obesity

This one is quite simple: eating fibre-rich foods helps fill you up and can prevent overeating. Research suggests that eating three servings of about ½ a cup of wholegrains daily is linked to a lower body mass index (BMI) in a review of studies involving almost 120 000 people.

3. Lowers your risk of Type 2 diabetes

By reducing your intake of refined grains and increasing your consumption of wholegrains, you can lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. This is partly because eating fibre-rich wholegrains helps with weight control, but it has also been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood sugar levels.

4. Supports healthy digestion

The fibre in wholegrains supports healthy digestion by giving bulk to stools and lowering your risk of constipation. Some types of fibre in wholegrains also act as prebiotics, which help feed the good gut bacteria you need for your digestive health.

The bottom line is that eating wholegrains is linked to a lower risk of developing chronic diseases of lifestyle. So now that you know you need to increase your intake of wholegrains, click here to see just how easy it is to do.

If you have a question for our dietitians, click here, or to find a dietitian in your area, visit adsa.org.za. To get in touch with us, email healthhotline@pnp.co.za.

References:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-of-whole-grains
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-why-whole-grains-are-the-healthier-choice/
https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Grains
http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/heart/
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Inflammation_A_unifying_theory_of_disease