Whole grains are key to managing waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar

Credit: Unsplash+

A recent study from Tufts University has brought to light the significant health benefits of consuming whole grains, especially for middle-aged and older adults.

The research, which utilized data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, aimed to understand how the intake of whole and refined grains affects heart disease risk factors over time.

These factors included waist size, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, triglyceride levels, and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

The study involved over 3,100 participants, primarily white and in their mid-50s on average, from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. This cohort was established in the 1970s to study long-term risk factors for heart disease.

The researchers paid particular attention to changes in the participants’ health over a median period of 18 years, linked to their consumption of whole and refined grains.

Participants were categorized based on their reported whole grain intake, ranging from less than half a serving per day to three or more servings per day.

To put this into perspective, a serving of whole grains could be a slice of whole-grain bread, half a cup of rolled oats cereal, or half a cup of brown rice.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, the recommended daily intake of whole grains is at least three servings.

The findings of the study were quite revealing. Those who consumed fewer whole grains experienced a greater increase in waist size – over 1 inch – compared to those who ate more whole grains, who saw an increase of about half an inch.

Furthermore, individuals who had a lower intake of whole grains also showed greater increases in blood sugar levels and systolic blood pressure.

Interestingly, the study also found that a lower intake of refined grains resulted in a smaller average increase in waist size and a more significant decrease in triglyceride levels every four years.

These results highlight the health benefits of whole grains beyond just weight management. Eating more whole grains seems to help people better maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure levels as they age, which are crucial factors in protecting against heart disease.

For those interested in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, this study aligns with other research suggesting that certain dietary choices, like what we eat for breakfast, can significantly impact blood sugar control throughout the day.

Published in the Journal of Nutrition and led by Caleigh M Sawicki, this study adds to the growing body of evidence emphasizing the importance of a diet rich in whole grains for long-term health, particularly in preventing heart-related issues and managing key health indicators like waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.