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Why are cereals and whole grains good for you?
The research about increasing whole grains and cereals in your diet proves an amazing range of benefits. It is likely that this is the result of an increased fiber intake for those adding more whole grains to their diet. In one study men who ate more fiber had a far lower risk of weight gain: up to 48% lower for the highest intake of fiber.
Whole Grains Help You Lose Fat
Studies have shown that those who eat more whole-grain foods tend to have a lower Body Mass Index and a lower risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of your daily servings of grains should come from whole grains, not just because of the increased fiber, but also because they contain more of various heart-protective compounds than refined grains.
Whole Grains and Heart Disease Risk
We know from one study that those who eat the most whole grains tend to have a lower Body Mass Index, a lower weight, and a lower waist circumference compared to those who eat the least whole grains. Whole grains have also been associated with a lower fasting insulin score and an overall lower risk of death among type 2 diabetics.
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There is a great deal of evidence to support that eating foods rich in whole grains helps to prevent disease and prolong your life. Much of that research has been in middle aged adults, however. Nadine Sahyoun and her colleagues report on a study to answer the question of whether older people have the same benefits from consuming more whole grains (AJCN 2006; 83(1): 124 - 131).
The researchers evaluated the information provided by 535 healthy subjects between 1981 and 1984. In addition to a three day food diary the participants had blood testing done to evaluate for metabolic risk factors. This research is unique because of the use of a food diary where many studies use a diet recall form that asks people to remember what they ate.
Over ten years later, in 1995, the status of the subjects were reviewed. At the time the average age of the participants was 72. The information collected showed that the higher the intake of whole grains, the lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, as well as risk factors for heart disease. Interestingly, the more whole grains consumed, the lower the risk for death from heart attack.
The opposite was true for those eating more refined grains. They had a much higher risk for metabolic syndrome as well as increased risks for heart disease. Eating more refined grains did not show an increase in death from heart disease, however.
Making the change to whole wheat breads and cereals, eating more brown rice and whole wheat pasta is key to eating healthier. Any of the pasta recipes on the Dr. Gourmet site can be made with whole wheat pasta, and more and more recipes are being designed specifically with whole grain ingredients. Making the transition to eating healthy for you can start with a healthier version of Baked Penne, for example, and then later you can start using whole wheat pasta.
First posted: May 10, 2006