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11 Ways Grains Are Great

Here's a quick list of all the ways that whole grains benefit your body. After reading it, you may ask yourself, "What don't they do?"

1. They're digested slowly.

Whole grains are digested more slowly than refined grains, which has beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin (keeping levels of both down). A recent study found that the more whole grains men and women ate, the lower their fastinginsulin levels were. And this is a good thing.

2. They reduce mortality rates.

After analyzing data from more than 15,000 people aged 45-65, researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that as whole-grain intake went up, total mortality (the rate of death from all causes) went down.

3. They help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Nurses' Health Study found that women who ate more than 5 grams of fiber from whole-grain cereals daily had about 30% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than 2.5 grams of whole-grain fiber a day.

Other research found that women who ate a diet low in cereal fiber and high on the sugar (glycemic) index doubled their risk of type 2 diabetes.

4. They help control weight.

One study found that women who ate three or more servings of whole-grain foods a day had significantly lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than those eating less than one serving a day. (This was found in men, too, but the link was more significant in women.)

Another study found that women whose diets included the most whole grains were half as likely to gain a lot of weight over a 12-year period as those who ate the least whole grains. This slimming effect was seen even in teens.

5. They may protect against metabolic syndrome.

Research has found that metabolic syndrome -- a condition that raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke -- was found much less often in people who ate the most cereal fiber and whole grains compared with those who ate the least.

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