Another mainstay of the Mediterranean diet is whole grains—think whole grain bread, whole grains in salads, whole grain pasta, etc.
But first, let’s understand why you must choose whole grains and avoid refined alternatives.
Whole grains contain fiber that slows digestion and keeps your stomach fuller for longer. Moreover, fiber also helps maintain blood sugar control.
Whole grains retain nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. As a result, they help maintain blood sugar and blood pressure over time.
Whole grain kernels have all three essential parts—bran, endosperm, and germ, but refined grains only have the endosperm. Each of the three components provides nutrients.
Bran is rich in fiber, B vitamins, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
Germ is packed with healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
Endosperm provides carbohydrates, protein, and some amount of B vitamins and minerals.
Consuming whole grains has many benefits. First, it promotes weight loss—as it is fiber-rich, it makes you feel fuller for longer. In the long run, consistent whole grain consumption helps control blood sugar and blood pressure, which helps keep heart diseases at bay.
A study of 18 years, published in the Journal of Nutrition, reveals that people who ate three or more servings of whole grain daily had a lower average increase in waist size than those who ate less than one-half serving.
Besides this, the increase in blood sugar levels and systolic blood pressure were lower in the former set of people even though they gained weight.
In what ways can you use whole grain in Mediterranean dishes?
- As a stuffing in vegetables
- Add to salads
- To thicken soups
- To make bread
- To make breakfast cereal base
Tip: Experiment with various whole grains that suit your taste, and mix them up from week to week.
Whole grains to add to your grocery list:
- Brown rice