1. Women Who Eat Whole Grains Weigh LessA study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the importance of choosing whole rather than refined wheat to maintain a healthy body weight. In this Harvard Medical School / Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, which collected data on over 74,000 female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12 year period, weight gain was inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber, whole-grain foods, such as whole wheat, but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods, such as products made from refined wheat.2. Whole Grains Reduce Risk of Metabolic SyndromeFirst we were told, “Don’t eat fat, and you’ll stay trim.” After following this advice only to see obesity expand to never before seen proportions, we’re told by the food gurus, “Eating fat is fine. Shun carbohydrates to stay slim.”
In our opinion, neither piece of dietary advice is complete, accurate or likely to help us stay slim or healthy. Just as different kinds of fats have different effects in our bodies (e.g., saturated and trans fats are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease while omega-3 fats decrease cardiovascular disease risk), some carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are healthful while others, such as refined grains and the foods made from them, are not.
3. Whole Grains Substantially Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.
Risk of type 2 diabetes was 31% lower in black women who frequently ate whole grains compared to those eating the least of these magnesium-rich foods. When the women’s dietary intake of magnesium intake was considered by itself, a beneficial, but lesser-19%-reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes was found, indicating that whole grains offer special benefits in promoting healthy blood sugar control. Daily consumption of low-fat dairy foods was also helpful, lowering risk of type 2 diabetes by 13%.
4. Whole Wheat’s Betaine Lessens Chronic Inflammation
People whose diets supplied the highest average intake of choline (found in egg yolk and soybeans), and its metabolite betaine (found naturally in beets, spinach and whole wheat), have levels of inflammatory markers at least 20% lower than subjects with the lowest average intakes, report Greek researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Detopoulou P, Panagiotakos DB, et al.)
In an accompanying editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition entitled, “Is there a new component of the Mediterranean diet that reduces inflammation?,” Steven Zeisel from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill noted that choline and betaine work together in the cellular process of methylation, which is not only responsible for the removal of homocysteine, but is involved in turning off the promoter regions of genes involved in inflammation.
5. Whole Grains Help Prevent Gallstones
Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, such as cereals and breads made from whole wheat, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
How do foods rich in insoluble fiber help prevent gallstones? Researchers think insoluble fiber not only speeds intestinal transit time (how quickly food moves through the intestines), but reduces the secretion of bile acids (excessive amounts contribute to gallstone formation), increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (blood fats). Abundant in all whole grains, insoluble fiber is also found in nuts and the edible skin of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, many squash, apples, berries, and pears.
6. Whole Wheat Gets You Going
Wheat bran is a popular bulk laxative. A third of a cup per day is all that is needed. Research studies support this popular practice. A fiber-rich diet, primarily composed of whole wheat breads, cereals high in bran and supplemental “millers bran” was shown to alleviate the symptoms of diverticular disease (pain, nausea, flatulence, distension, constipation, etc.) in 89 percent of patients enrolled in a study which examined the effects of fiber on bowel regularity.