Celebrating Whole Grain Month!

By Lainey Wolf Intern NAWG Fall 2018

The month of September is dedicated to celebrating whole grains. Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and serves as an excellent source of nutrition. Benefits of eating whole wheat food products include increased fiber intake, decreased risk for heart disease, lowered cholesterol and much more. Choosing whole wheat can be a healthier option based on individual metabolic needs. Whole wheat can be contributed to a substantial amount of health benefits for women and men of all ages.

Whole grain products contain the whole kernel, which made up of three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. The bran provides an excellent source of fiber, while protein, carbohydrates and B Vitamins are associated with the endosperm. Finally, the germ contributes volatile fats, trace minerals, and antioxidants. Each of these components of a wheat kernel come together to provide key components to human (and many animal) diets.

Several nutritional components of whole wheat can be contributed to health benefits. Higher amounts of fiber associated with whole grain products can help improve digestion. In fact, wheat provides the greatest portion of fiber in the typical American diet. Potassium and magnesium are provided by the fibrous components of the kernel, which assist in lowering blood pressure. Potassium is also associated with building protein and muscle. Furthermore, folate is necessary for the synthesis of DNA and other genetic material which make all functions in our body possible!

A few key vitamins play huge roles in daily health. Vitamin E and A support the immune system. Without enough vitamin A the visual and reproductive systems can become compromised. Additionally, vitamin D is critical for the absorption of calcium. A few minerals, which are of equal importance, are abundant in whole wheat. Bone strength and preservation are linked directly to calcium. Another mineral, iron, binds to the hemoglobin in our blood to assist in transferring oxygen throughout the body. Wheat also contributes magnesium to sustain bodily nerve and muscle functions.

Fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components make whole wheat the excellent source of nutrition that it is. Some of the leading diseases that Americans face can have reduced risks with the consumption of wheat. The number one cause of death for both men and women in America is heart disease, however studies have contributed consuming whole grains to a decreased risk. Whole grains also contain phytonutrients, which are known to halt the damage of DNA and suppress the growth of cancerous cells. Considering cancer affects everyone either personally or through relationships, anticarcinogenic properties are a huge benefit. Even the risk of diabetes can be reduced by consuming whole wheat.

Fortunately, Americans are lucky enough to have the best quality wheat in the world right at their fingertips. Many other countries across the globe import American wheat, because it is known for its excellent nutritional components, such as higher protein content. Even some of the world’s best croissants and pizzas use wheat grown by American farmers.

To read more about the benefits of incorporating whole wheat into your diet check out Grain Foods Foundation at https://grainfoodsfoundation.org/ or the Wheat Foods Council at https://www.wheatfoods.org/