Going Against the Grain? Should You Re-Think It?

         There are a lot of people avoiding grains in their diets, and with good arguments for it.  And a lot of people who have serious problems with grains… like gluten intolerance or celiac disease obviously need to always avoid grains.

          But it seems some of us may be avoiding them when we shouldn’t.  Recent studies have found that grains may help us live longer and avoid heart disease and cancer.  So maybe some of us should reconsider our avoidance of them.

          Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of  Public Health found that people who ate the most whole grains (70 grams/day, which is about 4 servings), compared with those who ate little or no whole grains, had a lower risk of dying.

    So if you are avoiding grains for any reason other than that they are actually known to be harmful to your personal health, it may be negatively impacting your health to be leaving them out of your diet. The results of those studies found that people who ate those 70 grams a day of whole grains, compared with those who ate little or no whole grains, had a 22% lower risk of total mortality, a 23% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, and a 20%lower risk of cancer mortality.

    The study was a meta-analysis that combined results from 12 published studies, in addition to unpublished results form the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and NHANES 1999-2004. The studies were done in the U.S., U.K and Scandinavian countries between 1970 and 2010. Health info from 786,076 participants was included in the study.

    The Harvard researchers said that multiple bioactive compounds in whole grains could contribute to their health benefits. But the really impressive nutrient in grains could be their fiber. 

    High fiber content may lower cholesterol production and glucose response. And recent Australian researchers found that people with the greatest fiber intake had close to an 80% higher chance of living a longer, healthier life than those who weren’t consuming as much fiber. 

    So if you haven't been eating much fiber, maybe you should add some. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are good for you. Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, beans, peas, soybeans, apples, bananas, certain vegetables, and psyllium husk. Insoluble fiber is in green beans, dark leafy vegetables, whole wheat products, fruit and root vegetable skins, seeds and nuts..  Enjoy those grains again!  

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