The wonders of whole wheat
One of the easiest dietary changes to make, and one that carries a real health punch, is replacing refined grains with more healthful whole wheat. This one change in diet can have a significant impact on health, from helping to maintain a healthy weight to helping to avoid certain kinds of cancer. Recent studies, including one at the University of Iowa, have suggested that higher levels of whole grain, including whole wheat, in the diet were associated with a lower risk of both breast cancer and heart disease.
Other studies have associated the consumption of whole wheat and other whole grains with a reduced risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The USDA is now recommending that every adult consume three servings of whole wheat and other whole grains every day, but most people fall short of this important mark, averaging only one serving per day of whole wheat and other whole grains.
Whole wheat and cancer prevention
There is now considerable evidence that a diet rich in whole wheat and other whole grains plays an important role in lowering a person’s risk of cancer. The major cancer fighting ingredient of whole wheat is thought to be dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is thought to play an important role in the prevention of cancer, and whole wheat breads and other products are rich sources of this dietary fiber.
In addition, whole wheat and other whole grains are thought to reduce levels of serum insulin. High levels of serum insulin have been associated with higher risk of cancers of the breast and colon, so lowering these levels may have an effect in the prevention of cancer.
Whole wheat and selenium
Whole wheat and other whole grains can also be rich sources of the mineral known as selenium, although the actual selenium content of the grain will vary according to the selenium content of the soil. Vitamin E, however, seems to be present in high amounts in just about all whole wheat and whole grain products. Vitamin E is thought to be a strong cancer fighter which has the power to prevent cancer causing chemicals from doing harm. In addition, whole grain products like whole wheat bread and crackers also contain many important micronutrients.
Whole wheat products and other whole grains have been shown to have a significant impact on overall health, and a diet rich in whole wheat and other whole grains has been associated with an overall increase in health and an overall decrease in obesity. That may be because whole wheat is a high energy, nutrient rich and relatively low calorie food. The rich nature of many whole wheat products seems to promote a feeling of fullness and reduce the risk of overeating.
What to look for
When purchasing whole wheat products, it is important to find those products that are processed as little as possible. Excessive processing can add unhealthy ingredients and it can also strip away some of the valuable nutrients contained in whole wheat bread, crackers and other products. As always it is important to read the nutritional label on any whole wheat products you buy, and to buy the most natural, highest quality products you can find.