The Whole Truth About Whole Grains
11 reasons to make the switch now
6. They reduce risk of heart disease.
At least 25 studies have found that people who regularly eat whole grains
have a lower risk of heart disease.
"The evidence is quite consistent and convincing that people who eat at
least one serving of whole grains a day have a lower risk of heart disease and
stroke," reports Mark Pereira, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Harvard
In studying the dietary habits of male health professionals, researchers
found that for every 10 gram increase in cereal fiber eaten each day, the risk
of heart attack was reduced by nearly 30%. A more recent study found this
beneficial effect is even stronger in women.
8. They cut cholesterol levels.
Researchers at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago found that
adding oats to an already low-fat diet helped women cut their blood cholesterol
by an additional 8 or 9 mg/dL after only three weeks. (That came on top of the
12 mg/dL reduction seen with the low-fat diet alone!)
Antioxidants found in oats cut cholesterol by suppressing the molecules that
make blood cells stick to artery walls. When these cells stick to artery walls
and cause inflammation, plaque deposits build up and narrow the passageways
where blood flows, leading to "hardening of the arteries."
9. They reduce blood pressure.
Eating foods containing barley decreases blood pressure and improves several
other risk factors for heart disease, according to a recent study. (Other
studies of high-fiber, whole-grain foods have also reported significant
reductions in blood pressure.)
The researchers also noticed a decrease in total cholesterol (an average of
21% reduction in those eating lots of soluble fiber, such as that found in
barley and oats), and "bad" cholesterol. Levels of "good
cholesterol" either increased or did not change.
10. They can decrease your risk of stroke.
A recent Harvard study found that a diet with large amounts of whole-grain
foods was associated with a decreased risk of stroke in women.
11. They reduce cancer risks.
More than 40 studies looking at 20 types of cancer have suggested that
regularly eating whole grains reduces cancer risk.