Posted on: September 21st, 2021

Whole grain sounds healthier than refined or highly-processed grain… because it’s true. A recent Journal of Nutrition study looked at how whole grains and processed grains influence heart disease.

The study has been in progress for almost 50 years, studying the health of people from the 1970s to the present day. The scope of this study has allowed researchers to get a clearer picture of the long-term effects of eating specific types of grains for sources of dietary fiber.

Heart Disease & Grain

The study specifically looks at 5 major factors of heart disease:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Triglyceride level
  • Waist size

The study authors used these five factors as markers of heart health and found that the people who consumed the highest amounts of whole grains were significantly healthier.

The test subjects who ate whole grains reported eating foods like brown rice, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain oats averaged only ½” waist gain over the span of the study versus 1”+ from their processed-grain counterparts. Waist size is an indicator of the likelihood of heart disease in many cases, making these very interesting results.

Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, & Whole Grains

Test subjects who primarily ate whole-grain foods also had significantly better blood sugar levels than those who ate processed grains. “The findings suggest that whole grains not only come with benefits as you’re eating them or in the short-term but can also have a significant longer-term effect on your health,” says Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., researcher in nutritional epidemiology at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Blood pressure was also an area of notable difference between those who ate primarily whole-grain foods and those who did not. Specifically, the systolic blood pressure of processed grain-eaters was much higher than that of the whole-grain group.

Why It’s Important to Incorporate Whole Grains

Whole-grain diets have been associated with lower body weight and cardiovascular health in general. Having good cardiovascular health can lower risks for major health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

The fiber content in whole-grain products has been considered one of the beneficial components in keeping people healthy. More fiber fills people up and helps the digestive system function properly. Less overeating helps the digestive system function normally, without having to compensate for excessive amounts of food.

The fiber in whole grains has also been shown to help gut bacteria function. The gut microbiome plays an important role in overall health, with some studies even noting good gut function can help with heart and cardiovascular health.

If you’re looking to eat a bit healthier, whole-grain bread and other products are a great place to start. You don’t have to stop eating all processed grain foods–just be aware of how much you are eating.

Research at Biofortis

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