6 of the best heart healthy grains that have the highest amount of fibers are enlisted here. These include oats, brown rice, barley, whole wheat, millets, and rye. These whole grains may be consumed as whole wheat bread and oatmeals etc.
Because of their weight loss properties, antihypertensive effects, highest amounts of fibers, and cholesterol-lowering effects, these heart-healthy whole grains must be part of at least one of our daily meals.
Whole grains have been the center of all healthy diet topics for decades. But sadly, despite all these guidelines and recommendations, people still go for unhealthy options.
All types of healthy and balanced diets, or disease-specific diets such are the cardiac diet focus on increasing the intake of whole grains.
The Food Pyramid in 2005 recommended the most servings from the cereal and grains group was changed in 2011 with the highest per day serving of fruits and vegetables and cereals placed at the second largest portion.
One reason behind this change was that people used refined grains which are unhealthy and are harmful to the body.
Today, we will discuss the difference between whole grains and refined grains, why are whole grains a healthier choice, and some amazing types of whole grains that are perfect for heart health.
What are whole grains?
First of all, there are two types of grains:
- Whole grains
- Refined grains
Whole grains are a healthy type of grains because their fiber content is not lost during the milling process. They are called “Whole” because they contain all three parts, the bran, germ, and endosperm.
Refined grains lose their bran part in the milling process and they do not have enough fiber as whole grains. All the beneficial components are lost due to processing.
The remaining part is endosperm which acts as a simple carbohydrate and increases blood sugar levels, and total body weight and increases the risk of obesity and heart disease.
Why are Whole Grains considered healthy for the heart?
Whole grains provide an ample amount of dietary fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fibers have cholesterol-lowering effects.
Fiber lowers the amount of bad cholesterol in the heart and prevents atherosclerosis. They also lower the production of bile acids which are involved in fatty acid storage in the body.
They help in blood pressure and weight maintenance.
They contain essential B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and minerals such as selenium and magnesium. These play important role in carrying out normal body functions.
Best Heart-Healthy Whole Grains
Here is a list of some of the best heart-healthy whole grains with maximum benefits for your heart!
Heart-Healthy Whole Wheat:
Wheat is the most popular and the most widely consumed grain product.
Wheat bran has been associated with a lot of health benefits including anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-hypertensive properties.
One study suggests that whole wheat consumption regulates glycemic control, improves insulin sensitivity, and also improves fermentation of resistant carbohydrates in the gut. [Ref]
Another study suggests that the antioxidant capacity of wheat bran is similar to that of berries and fruits. [Ref]
Wheat bran contains a high amount of Vitamin E and flavonoids that aid in blood pressure regulation and maintenance of a healthy BMI. [Ref]
Oats are one of the healthiest grains and they are a great source of important vitamins and minerals. They aid in lowering LDL cholesterol.
One study suggests that consumption of oats reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in borderline hypertensive patients. [Ref]
Another study suggests that oat β-glucans aid in the reduction of LDL cholesterol. [Ref]
Barley is a versatile cereal that has a nutty flavor and can be added to many dishes. It is rich in fiber and abundant amounts of micronutrients.
One study suggests that barley consumption is associated with decreased waist circumference and visceral fat. [Ref]
Another study suggests that high amounts of vitamin E and phytochemicals in barley aid in improving insulin sensitivity, serum cholesterol levels, and weight loss. [Ref]
Many of the nutrients in brown rice are beneficial for heart health. It’s high in dietary fiber, which can help lower your risk of heart disease death.
Brown rice also has a lot of magnesium, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Brown rice has a higher proportion of dietary fiber, a modest amount of proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamins, and bioactive substances than white rice.
One study suggests that rice bran oil is associated with low levels of LDL cholesterol. [Ref]
Rye is a grain product that is not very popular but it has some amazing health benefits. Whole-grain rye flour has a greater amount of dietary fiber than whole wheat flour.
This abundant amount of fiber aids in maintaining satiety and causes significant weight loss if consumed regularly.
One study suggests that rye bread is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels in men with hypercholesterolemia. [Ref]
Millet is a centuries-old grain that has been loved by humans for thousands of years. It is becoming more popular due to its quick growth, drought resistance, and amazing health benefits.
Millet consumption is beneficial for cardiovascular health as it increases the levels of adiponectin, which inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduces oxidative stress. [Ref]
How to add more whole grains to your diet?
- Include more whole grains in your breakfast such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, bran flakes, and shredded wheat.
- Replace white processed bread with whole wheat bread or whole-grain bread. Use such bread to make sandwiches, tortillas, and dinner rolls.
- Substitute white rice with brown rice
- Use whole grains or enriched grains to include maximum nutrients in your meals
- Replace muffins and cakes with oat or barley including muffins or toasts.
- Use whole-grain bread for bread crumbs.
- Include whole wheat chapattis in your daily meals
- Consume oatmeal with milk or yogurt to increase the nutrient composition.
- Try composite grain flours to add more variety to your meals
- Replace white refined pasta with whole wheat pasta.
- Try to include healthy snack options that contain less processed cereals and more whole grains.
A healthy diet leads to a healthy heart. Whole grains are beneficial for the heart in all aspects. Each type of whole grain has its own unique characteristic that plays a significant role in the protection against cardiovascular diseases.
Advancing research has established a link between increased whole-grain intake and a reduced risk of CVD, obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and better health-related quality of life.