Whole-grain foods include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice and whole cornmeal.
Health experts have long urged people to swap their processed white grains for the whole–grain variety, and new research suggests that advice might help you live longer.
Researchers found that people who ate three or more servings of whole grains a day had a 20 percent reduced risk of premature death during the study period, compared to those who ate fewer or no servings of whole grains.
The higher the whole grain intake, the lower the death rate, especially deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Whole grains are so named because they contain the entire grain kernel, including bran (outer husk), germ (nutrient-rich core) and endosperm (middle layer). Whole-grain foods include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice and whole cornmeal.
When grains are refined, they have been milled and that process removes the bran and the germ, as well as fiber, iron and many of the B vitamins. White breads, white rice and white flour are all refined grains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
So how can you be sure the foods you’re eating actually are whole-grain? Foods that list “whole” before the first ingredient on the ingredient list are whole-grain foods, the USDA says.
Some foods are also naturally whole grains, such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, rolled oats, bulgur, wild rice and popcorn. The USDA says you can’t judge whether a food is whole-grain from its color. And, the agency notes that certain claims, such as 100 percent wheat, on packaging don’t necessarily mean a product is made with whole grains.