Health Benefits of Whole Grains
Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
- Americans typically eat <1 serving/day of whole grain products. The recommendation is for at least 3 servings/day of whole grains. Four large epidemiological studies all reveal a 25 to 35 percent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease with a regular intake of whole grain products.
- Rice bran, which is rich in polyphenolics, was recently shown to significantly lower both blood lipids and blood glucose levels in both type I and II diabetics.
- In the Nurses' Health Study, the women who consumed the highest intake of whole grains had a 38% lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Overweight adults with high blood levels of insulin who were fed either whole-grain or refined grain products for 6 weeks, experienced fasting insulin levels that were 10% lower when they consumed the whole grains. The insulin response 2 hours after the meal was 53% lower after the whole-grain meal.
- It is anticipated that research will continue to validate the value of using whole-grain foods in our diet, rather than refined grains. In a recent study from northern Italy, researchers found that those who had the highest consumption of refined cereals (pasta, breads, or rice) experienced a 30 to 60 percent higher incidence of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum) compared with those who had the lowest intake of refined grains. In the Nurses' Health Study, women who consumed an average of 2.7 servings of whole grain breads/cereals/rice/and bran had a risk of heart disease that was 33 percent lower than those women who had little, if any, whole grain products.
- In Norway, those who ate the highest amount of whole grain breads had an 30% lower overall mortality rate than those who ate the least amount.The bran and germ in whole grains is known to be loaded with health-promoting antioxidants.
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In a Danish study of 54,000 adults, those with the highest fruit and vegetable intake had a 28 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than those with the lowest intake, after adjusting for potential confounders.