According to the famous Nurses’ Health Study, regular consumption of whole grains lowered the risk of significant weight gain by a whopping 49%. Or, to put in another way, a study conducted at Tufts University found that participants who ate refined carbohydrates expanded their waistlines three times as much as those who ate whole grains.
2. Whole grains contain fabulous fiber. Obesity can lead to a host of inflammatory complications, including atherosclerosis, stroke, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that analyzed seven studies involving 150,000 people , those who ate diets highest in dietary fiber reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 29%. The top ten whole grains for dietary fiber are rye, barley, quinoa, spelt, whole wheat, corn, buckwheat, oats, brown rice and millet.
3. Whole grains have a healthy Glycemic Index. Whole grains have a low Glycemic Index (GI), which classifies carbohydrates according to how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar. Eating foods with a high GI, such as most refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and white potatoes, causes blood sugar to spike dangerously and requires extra insulin to metabolize it. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating high-GI foods increases your risk for becoming overweight and developing diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, infertility and colorectal cancer.
Eating foods with a low GI, on the other hand, helps you lose weight, avoid obesity and reduce your risk of complications from obesity. Low GI foods, such as whole grains like oats, brown rice and barley (as well as beans, fruits and vegetables) help keep blood sugar levels stable and make you feel fuller longer, even with smaller portions. You won’t feel hungry as soon, so you’ll eat less while still feeling satisfied.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a 12-week diet rich in low-GI whole grains promoted weight loss averaging between 8 and 11 pounds, especially around the abdominal region, and reduced the risk of chronic diseases that result from obesity.
4. Whole grains debunk diabetes. The fiber in whole grains helps stabilize blood sugar levels and overcome insulin resistance, an inflammatory condition that can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes for which obese people are at risk. Insulin resistance occurs when your body no longer responds properly to insulin, thus requiring even more insulin to help metabolize glucose. This results in toxic levels of both insulin and glucose in the bloodstream.
How quickly a carbohydrate is broken down into glucose depends on its fiber content. Since high-fiber complex carbs like whole grains digest slowly, they release blood sugars into the bloodstream at a steady pace. A Harvard Medical Study demonstrated that choosing whole grain bread, brown rice and oatmeal instead of white bread, white rice or sugary cereal reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 40%. And, according to a study conducted over eight years by the Black Women’s Health Study, eating whole grains helped prevent dangerous swings in blood sugar levels and reduced the risk of type-2 diabetes by 31%.
Buckwheat in particular helps stabilize glucose levels in the blood and lower cholesterol. Although technically not a grain, high protein, non-gluten buckwheat scores low on the glycemic index. A Chinese study found that eating buckwheat helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Buckwheat cooks up for a delicious nutty-tasting breakfast cereal. Rye, another high protein grain, also triggers a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream and is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that aids the body in metabolizing glucose and helps relax blood vessels, thus lowering hypertension common among obese people.