You know whole grains are good for you. They have lots of fiber, which is great for the digestive system. And they have a ton of vitamins and minerals, which benefits just about every organ in your body.
Now, a study out of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina says that eating fiber could protect against hardening of the arteries.
Researchers recruited a group of 1,178 multi-ethnic men and women. They studied the participants’ whole grain consumption based on how much dark bread, cooked cereal, and high fiber cereal they ate.
At the outset of the study, each of the participants had the inner arterial wall of the heart’s blood vessel measured in regards to thickness. After five years, the arterial wall was measured again.
The researchers discovered that the higher a participant’s whole grain intake, the thinner their arterial wall thickness was. Moreover, this thickness progressed less during the course of the study in proportion to the amount of whole grains ingested.
Thickening of the heart’s arteries is a major cause for concern. These arteries deliver blood to the brain. When the walls thicken and harden, it is because there is a build-up of fatty substances and other materials. This extra thickness puts you at risk for a heart attack or a stroke.
Higher levels of whole grain in the diet have already been linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. But this study confirms that fiber is good for the arteries of the heart, too.
Lead researcher, Dr. Philip B. Mellon, reported in the”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” that whole grains represent a wholesome and tasty way to prevent heart disease.
Most Americans do not eat much whole grain. Only about 10% meet the daily recommendation of three servings a day. Some still do not eat any whole grains. Even in this latest study, the average intake of whole grains was less than one serving a day.
It’s not difficult to meet your requirements for whole grains. Start the day with some oatmeal, barley or quinoa cooked on the stove. Add some brown rice or couscous to your dinner. It just takes a few extra moments to prepare whole grains. You can often have them cooking while you do the preparation for the rest of the meal.
Remember that there are a lot of different varieties of whole grain bread available now. You don’t have to stick with whole wheat. You can try buckwheat bread, flax bread, spelt bread, or rye bread. Check labels carefully! Words like “cracked wheat” and “multi-grain” do not necessarily mean whole grain.