In the midst of the gluten-free fad, it's easy to forget that certain types of wheat have enormous health benefits. Particularly, fiber-rich whole grains appear to prolong your life, according to a recent study published in BMC Medicine. In case you've been looking for a reason to get more whole grains into your diet... well, here you go. Consider that problem solved.
The researchers studied the dietary habits of 367,442 adults ages 50 to 71, each for an average of 14 years. The subjects who consumed the most whole grains were 17 percent less likely to die during the span of the study, and those who consumed the most cereal fiber were 19 percent less likely.
Cereal fiber — which, despite the name, can also be found in whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, seeds, or barley — appeared partially responsible for the benefits of whole grains, since many of them also contain this carbohydrate. So, nutrition expert Johannah Sakimura recommends focusing on high-fiber grains to optimize the health benefits of whole grains.
Sakimura also warns that not all whole grains are created equal. The healthiest, she says, are those closest to their original form, like oats, brown rice, and popcorn. Second come whole wheat bread, pasta, and crackers, and last are whole-grain baked goods and sugar cereals — not exactly a shocker, since most of us don't eat Cocoa Puffs for health reasons.
If you're not sure if what you're eating is truly whole-grain (because many products labelled "made with whole grains" are in fact made with very few of them), she recommends this handy rule of thumb: make sure the product contains at least one gram of fiber for every ten grams of carbohydrate.
The results of this study confirm those of a Harvard study from January, which found that those who consumed large amounts of whole grains had a 9 percent lower mortality rate and a 15 percent lower rate of mortality from heart disease.
So, if you've got too much left to accomplish in this life to sacrifice any years, it may be wise to stock your pantry with high-fiber cereal, oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread. And if you'd like your parents to stick around for it all, you may want to email them this article.
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