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Slim Your Waist with Whole Grains and Legumes
I've said for years that the most important factor in weight loss is the number of calories you eat versus the number of calories you burn. That said, we also know that some foods are more filling and satisfying than others, which is just one explanation for why those who eat more whole grains tend to gain less weight over the years. 

Whole grains reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Metabolic syndrome, for those who might not be long-time readers of Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites, is a combination of abnormal lab results and body measurements that, taken together, lead to a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

Whole Grains and Prediabetes
One of the first clinical signs of developing diabetes is what is known as "impaired glucose tolerance." Simply put: after a standard blood glucose test, those who have a blood glucose level that is higher than normal, but lower than that of a person with diabetes, are considered to have impaired glucose tolerance. This often appears in combination with insulin resistance, in which the cells do not respond to the release of insulin. 


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Whole Grains, Heart Disease, and Diabetes

There's a lot of buzz about whole grains now. Frozen food manufacturers like Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine make a point of touting the amount of "whole grains" in their foods. Boxes of breakfast cereal, loaves of bread - everybody's getting on the whole grain bandwagon.

Better late than never. We here at Dr. Gourmet have been reporting on the positive effects of eating whole grains (and fiber in general) since we started our Health and Nutrition Bites series back in 2006. Just in the last couple of years, we've shared with our readers at least half a dozen research articles reporting specifically on whole grains or fiber - as opposed to the research on the Mediterranean Diet in general, of which whole grains are one of the nine principles.

A study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition (2012;142(7):1304-1313) reports on a meta-analysis of studies of whole grains and fiber. Researchers at UCLA identified over 60 different studies that focused specifically on whole grains, fiber, and its effects on Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. Their analysis looked at whole grains in general and then also dietary fiber as a whole.

Unsurprisingly (for those who have been reading our Bites for a while), they found that as compared to people who didn't eat whole grains (or did so rarely), those people who ate 3-5 servings of whole grains per day were 26% less likely to developType 2 diabetes and 21% less likely to develop heart disease. For all dietary fiber, the researchers compared those whose fiber intake was highest to those whose diets were very low in fiber. Again, those eating the most fiber were 16% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and 19% less likely to develop heart disease.

Finally, they looked at the long-term studies and assessed whole grains, fiber, and weight gain. Once again, those whose diets were highest in whole grains, eating at least 48 grams of whole grains per day (about 3 servings) or more, were the least likely to gain weight over periods ranging from 8 to 13 years.

What this means for you

It's important to note that these studies all included people eating actual food as opposed to using fiber supplements. Here's how to up your whole grain and fiber intake, along with recipes including whole grains.

First posted: October 17, 2012