Increase longevity by eating more whole grains

Here’s an easy way to possibly reduce your risk of premature death – eat more whole grains.  Research published in Circulation involving 12 studies that included over 780,000 participants found that consuming 70 grams each day of whole grains which is about four servings, reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular by 23 percent and lowered their risk of cancer death by 20 percent.  This was in comparison to individuals who consumed few if any whole grains.

Researchers in the study pointed out that there is nothing magical about the number 70 as even consuming at least 48 grams of whole grains lowered mortality.  But the higher the amount of whole grains consumed, the better.

No one food – even whole grains – will guarantee good health.  But whole grains are healthier than many other foods due to their nutritional makeup. All grains start out as a whole grain in their natural state.  Whole grains are grains that contain the entire seed of a plant - the germ, endosperm and bran. Refined grains such as white flour or white rice usually have had at least one to two parts of the seed removed and may contain only the endosperm. But when those parts of the seed begin to be removed, many important nutrients beneficial to your heath are removed along with them.

The bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel containing important antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.  The germ is the embryo which sprouts into a new plant.  It also contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals and healthy fats.  The endosperm is what supplies food to the germ giving it the ability to grow into a plant.  This is the largest portion of the kernel containing starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

All of the critical nutrients whole grains provide help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation and damage to cells.  It is not known exactly how whole grains extend longevity but it most likely is due to their variety of biochemical compounds working together to result in positive health outcomes.  The high fiber content may also help lower the production of cholesterol and glucose in addition to create a feeling of fullness reducing obesity and health conditions related to obesity. 

Choosing foods sources containing 100% whole grain (all 3 parts of the kernel), will contain approximately 16 grams of whole-grain ingredients.  An example of this would be one slice of 100% whole-grain bread or a half cup of oatmeal or cooked whole-grain pasta. 

People who have celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity and who must refrain from whole grains containing gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) can opt instead for gluten-free whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.

Other examples of heathy whole grains to choose from and include daily in your diet are:

·         Barley

·         Brown rice

·         Buckwheat

·         Bulgur (cracked wheat)

·         Farro 

·         Millet

·         Oatmeal

·         Popcorn

·         Spelt

·         Teff

·         100% whole-wheat bread, pasta, or crackers