Whole grains are generally healthier than refined white grains because they retain more of the nutrients found in the grain, whereas white grains lose a lot of nutrients during processing. Fiber and iron, as well as B vitamins, protein, and a small amount of calcium, are all nutrients found in whole grains. The amount of nutrients in each type of whole grain varies. During the manufacturing process, some manufacturers add additional nutrients to the product.
Because most people do not get enough fiber in their diet, fiber is one of the most important whole grain nutrients. Although fiber cannot be digested by the body, it plays an important role in maintaining its health. Fiber adds bulk to the stools in the intestines, making them easier to pass through the colon. According to studies, it also helps to keep the heart healthy by lowering cholesterol.
Those trying to lose weight may benefit from increasing their fiber intake because it helps them feel fuller faster and for longer.
Iron is another important nutrient found in whole grains. Iron is essential to the human body because it aids in the delivery of oxygen and the regeneration of cells. This nutrient from whole grains is especially important for those who do not get their iron from meat. Whole grains are not a major source of iron on their own, but many whole grain food manufacturers add extra iron to their products. Depending on the severity of the deficiency, a lack of this nutrient can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from fatigue to difficulty breathing.
B vitamins come in a variety of forms, including thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. These whole grain nutrients, like iron, are naturally present in small amounts in whole grain foods, but are frequently added during processing to bread, cereal, and other whole grain foods. Each of the B vitamins plays a critical role in keeping the body healthy. Thiamine, for example, is essential for brain and nerve cells, while niacin aids in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. A lack of B vitamins in the diet can lead to a variety of issues, including cracked lips, rashes, and seizures.
Protein and small amounts of calcium are two other whole grain nutrients. Whole grain protein is incomplete, meaning it lacks all of the amino acids necessary to make a complete protein. Although whole grains don’t have a lot of calcium, even a small amount can help people who can’t get enough calcium from dairy.