Whole grains—more than a heart-health trend

Whole Grains l Barnes-Jewish HospitalMost of us know we’re supposed to eat whole grains, but we might not know why. What makes them so special? Can they really deliver on the promises we’ve heard—a longer life, a healthier one? And if all that is true, exactly what should we eat to reap the benefits?

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, keeping blood vessels healthy, improving heart health and decreasing inflammation in the body.

A study by Harvard School of Public Health found that every one-ounce serving of whole grains you eat can decrease your risk of dying from heart disease by 9 percent. It can also decrease your overall risk of death from any disease by 5 percent over 25 years. Furthermore, the study found that swapping one serving (four ounces) of red meat with one serving of whole grains decreases your chances of dying of a cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

What does this mean for you? The short answer is: The more whole grains you consume, the longer you’ll live and the lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

The question is, how much whole grain do we need in a day?

According to Katie Lambert, RD, LD, dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, “We recommend six servings of grains per day in your diet, half of which should be whole grains. The more whole grains you eat, the better.”

She adds, “A serving size equals one slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked rice, grains, pasta or cereal.”

Here are six whole-grain foods to add to add to your diet:

• Whole-wheat flour
• Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
• Popcorn
• Whole-grain cereal
• Whole-grain pasta
• Whole-grain bread products, preferably 100 percent whole-wheat or 100 percent whole-grain


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Category: Heart & Vascular, Nutrition

About the Author ()

Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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