Chef Tim Says...

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Dr. Tim Says....

Eating Whole Grains May Help
Prevent Age-Related Weight Gain

By now, you probably know that whole grains are better for you than refined flour. Well guess what? Now you’ve got another reason to make sure you’re eating your Wheaties® (or at least the whole-grain version): eating more whole grains seems to help reduce the amount of weight gained as you age.

Two recent (and similar) studies, one focused on women and one focused on men, tracked weight and dietary intake across a period of years:


Number of participants: 27,082
Years tracked: 8
Ages at study start: 40-75 years


Number of participants: 74,091
Years tracked: 12
Ages at study start: 38-63 years

Both studies excluded people with heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, as these conditions can affect weight, physical activity, and what one is allowed to eat. The researchers used detailed surveys sent out regularly over the tracking period to gain information regarding the subjects’ eating habits. To give you an idea of how detailed they were, the question about whole grain foods gave a choice of nine answers, ranging from “never” (no whole grain foods per day) to “6 or more servings per day”.

Both studies found that although both groups, men and women, gained some weight as they aged, those who ate the most servings of whole grain each day gained the least amount of weight: men gained only one-third as much weight as those who ate the least amount of whole grains. The difference for women was somewhat smaller: women gained two-thirds as much weight as those who ate the least amount of whole grains. Still, those women (and men) who increased their whole-grain intake over the course of the studies weighed less than those who did not increase the amount of whole grains they ate.

There’s even better news for you if you’re a woman, though! Yet another study focusing on women has shown that getting more fiber in your diet may help prevent heart disease and heart attack. This study of 38,480 women without heart disease, stroke, or cancer at the beginning of the study tracked their intake of dietary fiber for 6 years, using a questionnaire similar to the ones used in the other two studies. Once again, more daily fiber meant fewer cases of heart disease or heart attack, even for those women with a family history of heart attack or who had high blood pressure or diabetes.

So what does it all mean? If you want to help keep from gaining weight as you age, eat more whole grains. If you want to avoid heart disease or heart attack, eat more whole grains. Heck, eat more whole grains, period!

November 21, 2005

Last updated: 02/02/06