It is well-known that whole grains are a healthful addition to anyone’s diet, but understanding why has been a challenge. A new study lifts the lid.

Lately, it has become common knowledge that eating foods that contain whole grains is good for our health. However, we are only now unraveling exactly why this is the case.

Selection of whole grains

Why are whole grains so healthful?

Drink enough water, get enough sleep, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and eat whole grains; the importance of these behaviors is drilled into us.

It is fairly easy to see why the first three items are on the list above; the fourth, though, has proven more challenging to understand.

Studies have demonstrated a raft of benefits associated with consuming higher levels of whole grains; they seem to protect against chronic diseases and reduce the risk of all-cause mortality.

Diets that are rich in whole grains have also been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, help maintain a healthy weight, and much more besides.

Why they should carry these benefits is not clear. Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio are getting to the bottom of the molecular mechanisms behind whole grains’ health benefits.

Whole grains reopened

Principal investigator Dr. Kati Hanhineva explains why the scientists began looking into this, saying, “Whole grains are one of the healthiest foods there is. For instance, we know that a high intake of whole grains protects against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

“Up until now, however, we haven’t understood the cellular mechanisms through which a whole grain-rich diet impacts our body.”