Whole grains may help us live longer
Researchers looked at the eating habits of almost 120,000 people over several years. They found that eating just 28 grams of whole grains every day – the same as just one slice of 100% whole wheat bread – lowers your risk of death by five percent. People suffering from heart disease lowered their risk of death even more, dropping it nine percent.
The researchers think the higher bran intake may be responsible. Bran is rich in fiber, which may reduce the risk of heart disease as well as other chronic conditions like metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Every year, 600,000 Americans die from it, says the American Heart Association.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are many things that make your risk of heart disease higher. They include diabetes, being overweight or obese, not eating well, not exercising regularly and drinking excessively.
“Knowing what increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack is a key to avoiding these life-threatening conditions,” says Abdul Ghani, MD, a cardiologist on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital. “This study shows us that something as easy and simple as increasing our intake of whole grain can have a very real positive impact on the health and overall health.”
The CDC points out that nearly 2 out of 3 adults with high cholesterol and about half of adults with high blood pressure don’t have their condition yet under control.
“It’s very important that people take active ownership in their own health,” says Dr. Ghani. “They need to be aware of what’s going on with their bodies and be ready and willing to make changes, such as eating more whole grains, to decrease chances of serious health issues.”
- To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product – such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. It’s important to substitute the whole-grain product for the refined one, rather than adding the whole-grain product.
- For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
- Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup or stews and bulgur wheat in casserole or stir-fries.
- Experiment by substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening.
- Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs in meatloaf.
- Try rolled oats or a crushed, unsweetened whole grain cereal as breading for baked chicken, fish, veal cutlets or eggplant parmesan.
- Try an unsweetened, whole grain ready-to-eat cereal as croutons in salad or in place of crackers with soup.
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About the Author
Amanda Jo Greep is the manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest. She has more than ten years of experience in communications and public affairs and has worked with a variety of nonprofits and health care organizations. Jo holds a master's of public administration degree in health policy and management from New York University. In her spare time, she is a Girl Scout leader, runner and amateur genealogist.