Health Benefits of Whole Grains: What to Know About the Mediterranean Diet Staple – The New York Times

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Crusty bread, brown rice, nutty farro. Our guide is packed with inspiration for nutritious cooking.

This is Day 1 of Well’s Mediterranean Diet Week.

For me, a meal isn’t complete without a hunk of whole-wheat bread to dip into my soup, or a pile of brown rice to soak up my curry. Whole grains provide sustenance and comfort.

And lucky for us, they’re a main feature of the Mediterranean diet, which is an approach to eating that emphasizes whole, mostly plant-based foods.

Whole grains are different from refined grains in that they contain all three parts of a grain kernel: the starchy endosperm, which provides carbohydrates, protein and some B vitamins and minerals; the germ, rich in healthy fats and vitamins; and the bran, a concentrated source of fiber, minerals and B vitamins.

When we eat whole grains, the fiber and healthy fats slow digestion, resulting in smaller spikes and dips in blood sugar. Fiber can also reduce blood cholesterol levels, support a healthy gut and lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Aside from great nutrition, whole grains add a variety of flavors and textures to any meal: the nutty complexity of farro, the heartiness of barley and the crunch of oats toasted in granola or on top of a fruit crisp.

Below, we offer strategies for eating more whole grains, along with some recipes selected by our colleagues at NYT Cooking.

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