According to a new study eating at least three servings of whole grains each day can keep weight, blood pressure and sugar levels in check as one ages. Senior author Nicola McKeown, a scientist on the nutritional epidemiology team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, said, “Eating whole-grain foods as part of a healthy diet delivers health benefits beyond just helping us lose or maintain weight as we age. These data suggest that people who eat more whole grains can better maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Managing these risk factors as we age may help to protect against heart disease.”
In the study published Tuesday in The Journal of Nutrition, 3,100 people in their 50s were followed by the researchers for 18 years at regular four-year intervals. This allowed the researchers to track changes in eating habits over time. People who ate three or more servings of whole grains daily overtime had a more significant decline in triglyceride levels and a lower average increase in waist size every four years. A single serving of whole grains is a half cup of brown rice or a half cup of oats, or one slice of whole-grain bread. The average increase in blood sugar levels and systolic blood pressure were also lower in people who ate more whole grains.
Eating whole grains have lots of benefits to the body that are lost when the grain is processed. The flour in pasta, pastries, bagels, and white bread has lost the grain’s fibre-rich outer layer during the refining process. Also, the inner germ layer that’s full of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamin B, potassium, and magnesium. Only the starchy part of the grain is left.
Keeping the whole grain can increase dietary fibre and have a satiating effect; thus, calorie intake is reduced. The antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium may reduce new blood pressure, said first author Caleigh Sawicki. Soluble fibre has a beneficial effect on post-meal blood sugar spikes. The average American daily consumed about five servings of refined grains which is much more than recommended, so it is essential to find ways to replace refined grains with whole grains.