It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. And sometimes, let’s be honest – it doesn’t really matter.
So long as food is healthy, it doesn’t have to be a superfood. It’s okay for it to just be good for you.
But when it comes to cancer, you want more than promises or catch phrases.
That’s where whole grains come in. Because whole grains aren’t just sold as a superfood – whole grains actually are linked to helping fight cancer.
An Excellent Source of Fiber
We’ve known for years that high fiber diets may help reduce the risk of several common types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, esophagus, mouth, throat, stomach, and ovarian cancers.
And that the best source of fiber for cancer prevention is from food rather than fiber supplements.
In spite of knowing that, most Americans only get about 10-15 grams of fiber per day – when the recommended daily amount is at least 30 -35 grams.
But since it’s best to get your fiber from whole grain foods, you have to watch calorie intake as well.
Which makes whole grains a delicious way to boost your fiber intake without adding empty calories.
An entire cup of cooked oatmeal for breakfast only has 166 calories and it gives you 4 full grams of fiber. A cup of quinoa at dinner will give you 5 grams of fiber for only 222 calories!
Whole Grains Bring the Antioxidant Power
It makes sense once you think about it. Since oxidative damage seems to be linked to a higher risk of cancer, slowing that damage with antioxidants may help reduce the risk of cancer.
So what does this have to do with whole grains and why they’re linked to fighting cancer? After all, whole grains are about fiber, right? Not so much.
Just in the last few years researchers, have discovered that whole grain snacks and cereals have unexpectedly high amounts of certain antioxidants.
The key to getting all of the antioxidant benefits from grain though, is to make sure you are indeed eating whole grains. The antioxidants are found in the outer layer – the “bran” – and the inner layer – the “germ.”
However, when a whole grain goes through processing and becomes a refined grain, most of the outer layer and a good portion of the inner layer get stripped away, taking most of the antioxidants with them.
In order to get a grain’s full antioxidant power, make sure what you’re eating is labeled “whole grain.” That’s how you know you’re getting the healthiest layers.
Benefits Researchers Don’t Even Understand…
And I still haven’t mentioned the most amazing thing about how whole grains are linked to fighting cancer – there are some benefits to whole grains that researchers don’t understand.
When researching colorectal cancer, it was found that a 10 gram increase in fiber was linked to a 10% lower risk of colorectal cancer. But then they noticed that when the increase in fiber came in the form of whole grains, the protection against cancer was even greater.
It only took six ounces of whole grains to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%.
Not All Grains are Whole Grains
The key to getting whole grains is knowing which ones are actually whole – and which ones are imposters.
Marketers have learned to use certain words that make you think you’re getting all the health benefits of whole grains, when you’re really not.
If you’re looking for whole grains, stay away from foods labeled:
- 100% wheat
- Cracked wheat
- Stone ground
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these. And they may be perfectly adequate sources of fiber, which is good for you. Don’t feel like you have to purge these from your pantry.
Just know that they aren’t whole grains – which means they aren’t as healthy for you and they aren’t linked to fighting cancer the way whole grains are.
Instead, look for breads and snacks with these labels and ingredients:
- Brown rice
- Rolled oats
- Whole grain barely
- Whole grain corn
- Whole grain sorghum
- Whole grain triticale
- Whole oats
- Whole rye
- Whole wheat
- Wild rice
Any of those will give you all the health benefits of whole grains – from the fiber to the antioxidants and more that help fight cancer and keep you feeling your best.