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Is corn not as good for you as other whole grains or vegetables?
I'm not sure where it came from, but I have the idea that corn is to other whole grains somewhat as potatoes are to other vegetables, i.e., not as healthy. How good is corn for you? As a dried grain vs fresh? Is cornmeal normally nixtamaled?

More Reason to Get More Whole Grains
Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently published a study which focused on the relationship between eating whole grains, refined grains, or cereal fiber and risk factors for heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1745-53).

Whole grains reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome and death from heart attack
There is a great deal of evidence to support that eating foods rich in whole grains helps to prevent dis ase 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).


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Whole Grains and Hypertension

A recent long-term (10 years) study of over 28,000 women in the United States found an inverse association between the amount of whole grains consumed in a typical day and the subjects' risk of high blood pressure (Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 86(2):472-9).

The women in the study were all health professionals of at least 45 years of age and were free of heart disease, cancer, or high blood pressure at the start of the study. Their dietary habits were assessed by a detailed questionnaire, and their health status was monitored through regular follow-up contact. The researchers' analysis took into account Body Mass Index, smoking status, alcohol use, and exercise level, among other variables.

Whole grains were defined in this study as including dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereal, popcorn, cooked oatmeal, brown rice, and other grains. Those women who ate between two and four servings of whole grains per day, on average, saw their risk of high blood pressure drop by almost 10% compared to those women who averaged less than one serving of whole grains per day. Those women whose average intake topped 5 servings per day enjoyed a reduction in risk of almost 25%.

What's particularly interesting about this study is that the whole grain foods that were eaten most frequently were dark bread, popcorn, and whole-grain cold breakfast cereal (there's that "old fashioned" breakfast again!).

What this means for you

It's easy to get more whole grains in your diet, simply by making better choices in what you eat already. Have a whole-grain cereal for breakfast, or have oatmeal. Choose wheat bread for your sandwiches at lunch. And at dinner, choose brown or wild rice for your side dish. (Or have a whole-wheat pizza crust.)

First posted: August 15, 2007