10 Healthy Ways for Whole Grains: Lowering Risk Of Heart Disease, Cancer And Diabetes

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  1. Riham

    Riham Bronze Member

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    People who eat a lot of whole grains have a reduced risk of developing heart disease and cancer in later life, a major health study has found.

    The findings, published in The BMJ, suggest that whole grains can lower the risk of major health conditions including coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

    A team of researchers, led by Dr Dagfinn Aune at Imperial College London, said the results “strongly support dietary recommendations to increase intake of whole grain foods in the general population”.

    Whole grains are high in fibre, vitamins and folic acid, essential fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants including vitamin E, according to the British Dietetic Association.

    Researchers carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 45 published studies on whole grain consumption in relation to several health outcomes and all cause mortality.

    They included more than 7,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 2,000 cases of stroke, 26,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 34,000 deaths from cancer, and 100,000 deaths among 700,000 participants.

    For those who consumed 90g of whole grain products per day, the following was observed:

    • Coronary heart disease risk was reduced by 19%

    • Cardiovascular disease risk was reduced by 22%

    • Risk of death by stroke was reduced by 14%

    • Cancer risk was reduced by 15%

    • Respiratory disease risk was reduced by 22%

    • Risk of infectious disease was reduced by 26%

    • Diabetes risk was reduced by 51%
    The greatest health benefit was seen for people who went from not eating whole grains at all, to consuming two servings per day - equivalent to 32 g/day, such as 32 g of whole grain wheat or 60 g product/day, such as 60 g of whole grain wheat bread.

    Further reductions in health risks were observed in those who had up to 7.5 servings of whole grains a day, which is equivalent to 225g of whole grain products such as bread.

    A large body of evidence has emerged on the health benefits of whole grain foods over the last 10-15 years.

    Grains are one of the major staple foods worldwide and provide, on average, 56% of energy intake and 50% of protein intake.

    Researchers said that recommendations on the daily amount and types of wholegrain foods needed to reduce risk of chronic disease and mortality have often been unclear or inconsistent.

    They recommend for people to increase their intake of whole grains and to choosewhole grains rather than refined grains as much as possible.

    They noted there were several limitations with their analyses, and called for more research to determine health benefits of different types of whole grains in different geographical regions - as most of the current evidence is from the US and fewer studies have been conducted in Europe, Asia and other regions.

    They also said that studies of specific diseases, and less common causes of deaths, are needed.

    A similar study into whole grains was recently carried out by Harvard University researchers who found that a diet rich in whole grains, such as brown rice, oats and Weetabix, could significantly reduce risk of early death.

    They said that the more whole grains a person eats, the greater the health benefit.

    Qi Sun, who led the research, said low-carbohydrate diets that ignore the health benefits of whole grain foods “should be adopted with caution” as they could potentially lead to heart disease and early death.

    “Based on the solid evidence from this meta-analysis and numerous previous studies that collectively document beneficial effects of whole grains, I think healthcare providers should unanimously recommend whole grain consumption to the general population as well as to patients with certain diseases to help achieve better health and perhaps reduce death.“

    Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said of the findings: “Eating more whole grains is a simple change we can make to improve our diet and help lower our risk of heart and circulatory disease.

    “Unlike in the US, the UK doesn’t have specific recommendations for the number of portions of whole grains we should eat everyday, but we do have a recommendation on the amount of fibre we should eat.

    “Whole grains are a great way of increasing the level of fibre in our diets and, on average, our intake of fibre is not meeting guidelines.

    “Choosing brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, wholemeal or granary bread instead of white and swapping to wholegrain breakfast cereals like porridge are all simple ways to help us up our fibre and wholegrain intake.”

    Looking to add more whole grains into your diet? Here are 10 ways to do it.

    10 Ways To Get More Whole Grain Into Your Family’s Diet

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    Bake Better


    Start replacing white flour in baking recipes with whole wheat for a delicious and nutritious new take on old favourites like pancakes, cookies and muffins.

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    Swap White Bread For A Whole Grain Loaf

    Every time you reach to make your children a piece of toast or a sandwich, make sure you're using whole grain or wholemeal bread - sourdough and rye are especially good options. Whole grain pitta with hummous and vegetables and whole grain pitta pizza are fun snack and lunch ideas that are a hit with little ones and parents alike.

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    Update The Classics

    Give family-favourite dishes like breaded chicken and homemade fish fingers a new twist by using whole grain cereal or rolled oats as a topping instead of white breadcrumbs. You can also add whole grains into homemade meatballs and burgers by combining with uncooked oats.

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    Don't Miss Breakfast

    The most important meal of the day is also a great opportunity to have your first serving of whole grains. Look out for cereals with the green Whole Grain Guarantee banner on the box - or just pick up much-loved classics like Shredded Wheat and Cheerios, which are packed full of whole grain goodness.

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    Substitute Brown Rice For White

    Another easy way to start getting more whole grain in your family's diet is to switch to brown rice, which works great as a side dish alongside meat and vegetables and also as the main attraction in rice pilaf and risotto dishes.

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    Make It A Popcorn Night

    Corn is a whole grain, so make sure to integrate corn on the cob into your menu planning every week as a lunch or dinnertime side dish. In your downtime, you and the kids can snack on popcorn for a tasty way to up your whole-grain intake (movie night optional).


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    Ditch The White Pasta

    For most time-pressed parents, healthy pasta-based dishes are a reliable staple in their children's diets. Just swap white pasta for non-refined whole grain pasta and your children will be hitting the three-servings-of-whole-grains-a-day-target in no time.

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    Expand Your Horizons

    Never tried quinoa? Do. The protein-packed choice is a delicious and nutritious grain to add to your diet. Other tasty grains to experiment with that work well with a variety of dishes are bulgur wheat, barley and millet.

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    Start Sprinkling

    Finish off yoghurt, fruit and even salads with a sprinkling of oats for an easy way to up your daily whole grain consumption.

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    Change Your Snacks

    When those mid-afternoon pangs of hunger hit, think healthy and whole grain (and come prepared, so you're not tempted by a vending-machine chocolate bar). Try rye bread crackers (delicious with cheese or avocado), Nestlé Grab2Go cereal packs for when you're on the run and whole grain rice
     

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