A new research published in The Journal of Nutrition has linked the consumption of whole grains to lower increases in weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar, especially for middle-aged and older adults who ate a minimum of three servings a day. A team of researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort to assess risk factors. They conducted the study to determine just how whole grain versus refined grain consumption would affect various risk factors for heart disease, including waist size, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol.
Out of the 3,121 people who participated in the study, most were white, with an average age in the mid-50s. The researchers looked at their health outcomes for a median of 18 years to determine what effect whole, and refined grains had. They compared the changes that occurred at four-year intervals, and found that waist size increased less among those who ingested more whole grains. Also, blood sugar and systolic blood pressure increases were greater in those who ate fewer servings of whole grains.
Mary-Jon Ludy, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Public and Allied Health and associate professor, Food & Nutrition at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, believes whole grains are better for us as they include all edible parts of the grain kernel. “Fiber helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels, can lower cholesterol, and promote healthy digestion. The combination of fiber with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin), vitamin E, minerals (iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc) provides a host of disease prevention benefits, including lower levels of inflammation and reduced rates of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity,” she said.
National spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., said the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least three servings of whole grains a day. “A good place to start is to look at what foods you are already eating that are refined grains and see if you can replace them with the whole grain version. Eating pasta? Maybe try out replacing it with whole-grain pasta. Same for breads or other bread products.”