Shouting from the Housetops, Eat Whole Grains

January 18, 2010 in Antioxidants, Blog Recipes, Cooking & Baking Hints, Diabetic Menu Item, Health Claims, Mediterranean, Nutrition, Weight Management, Whole Grains by Joyce Bunderson

The Rapunzel Deck where were were locked out - too far to jump.

The Rapunzel Deck where were were locked out - too far to jump.

This is our message, and we would shout it from the housetops; unfortunately, in most neighborhoods, no one would listen. (We know, having been locked out on our front upper deck once.  We yelled till we were hoarse until neighbor Larry finally came home and paid attention, having a good laugh at us along the way to the rescue. Others saw and heard, but assumed it was mere eccentricity). So we are blogging, in loud letters.  Please increase the amount of whole grains you eat! Choose delicious forms of whole grains. Only part of this message seems to have gotten though.  Most people know they need more fiber and should choose whole grains, but are still getting less than 50% of what they need.  Yes, the fiber in whole grains is great for you, but I don’t want you to get the idea that fiber is the only portion of grains that’s important, because that just is not so. But the evidence continues to stack up in favor of whole grains.

There are quite a few well researched reasons to eat whole grains, like reducing the risk of heart disease, controlling diabetes, managing intestinal health, reducing the risk of certain cancers, and as a support for weight loss. This new research is about the connection of whole grain consumption with a reduced risk of high blood pressure; so the researchers, lead by Alan J. Flint, at the Harvard School of Public Health are on to something.

What they discovered after following 31,684 healthy men for 18 years was that the more whole grain the men ate the less likely they were to get hypertension.  It is important to note that the benefits of not getting high blood pressure, were found even after the researchers adjusted their data to account for other lifestyle and diet factors, including fruit and vegetable intake, vitamin use, and physical activity. The importance of that is that it makes it clear that whole grains are what are related to the positive response against hypertension.

Even though this particular research was done with men, there’s data from the Women’s Health Study that shows that whole grains can help control blood pressure. So ladies, look for the whole grains for both you and the men and boys in your life. (Note: don’t forget your lady friends, mothers, daughters, aunties and so on. How about a good chick flick and a big batch of home-popped popcorn?)

In addition, to the information for whole grains in general there was an independent link with bran’s additional reduction of hypertension risk.

They don’t know why whole grains help prevent high blood pressure, but some of the guesses include these facts: (1) whole grains lower blood sugar, (2) they improve insulin sensitivity and (3) they lead to eating less food due to a feeling of “fullness” from eating the whole grains.

What can you do to increase your fiber and benefit from the protective nutrient intake from whole grains?

  • Move toward choosing exclusively whole grain products.  Turn away from refined white flour in your own cooking and in the things you buy.
  • If you begin your day with a whole grain item, then you know you’re off to a good start.
  • Dr. Grandma’s pancakes, waffles, or Muffins Your Way; Mountain Top Breakfast; whole wheat toast; wheat berry cereal; cracked wheat cereal; whole wheat cereal like Shredded Wheat.
  • Popcorn for a snack. But beware!  See the popcorn article about theater popcorn.
  • Use whole grain pastas and breads
  • Change to brown rice. This is an item that lends itself to being cooked in a larger batch than you need; then frozen or stored in a covered bowl in the frig for shorter term storage.

There’s no way you can be fooled about the ‘wholeness’ of the grains when you’re eating wheat berries. (Or any of Dr. Grandma’s products for that matter, because we only use 100% whole organic hard red spring wheat in our products – nothing is taken out!). Try the Herbed Feta Wheat Berry Salad, it is really yummy.