Wheat: The whole truth

 

Wheat

The health benefits of wheat depend entirely on the form in which you eat it. These benefits will be few if you select wheat that has been processed into 60 per cent extraction, bleached white flour.

The many benefits of whole wheat products are being recognised more and more by consumers. Even though many health-conscious individuals have been cutting back on their intake of total carbohydrates and refined wheat products, the demand for whole wheat products has actually increased. This trend fits in well with a Mediterranean diet approach to health, which looks to lower overall carbohydrates but higher whole grains, including whole wheat. Eat whole grains, weigh less: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the importance of choosing whole rather than refined wheat to maintain a healthy body weight. In this Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fibre, whole-grain foods, such as whole wheat, but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods, such as products made from refined wheat.

Reduce risk of metabolic syndrome: Just as different kinds of fats have different effects in our bodies (e.g., saturated and trans fats are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, while omega-3 fats decrease cardiovascular disease risk), some carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are healthful; while others, such as refined grains and the foods made from them, are not. Refined grains and the foods made from them (e.g. white breads, cookies, pastries, pasta and rice) are now being linked not only to weight gain but to increased risk of insulin resistance (the precursor of type-2 diabetes) and the metabolic syndrome (a strong predictor of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), while eating more whole grain foods is being shown to protect against all these ills.

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