In a new study from researchers at the Harvard Medical School, published in the current issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, nearly 8000 women with diabetes followed as part of the Nurses’ Health Study showed the positive effects of eating a diet rich in whole grains—the same positive effects associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and mortality in the general population. After comparing levels of whole grain consumption to mortality rates over 26 years and accounting for lifestyle habits like smoking, being overweight and a lack of exercise, with everything else being equal, those who ate a diet with the most whole grains were 28 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who consumed the least and 35 percent less likely to die of CVD in particular. For the study whole grain included all its components—cereal fiber, bran and germ—key components that get removed when whole grains are processed into white flour products. Researchers conclude that adding bran—typically by replacing refined grains with bran-rich whole grains—could help lower the risk of premature death in both women and men with diabetes. USDA Food Pyramid guidelines are for 3 or 4 servings of whole grains per day, each measured as one ounce for foods like cereals or pasta (weighed dry) or “one ounce equivalents,” such as a slice of bread. Think of replacing some of the processed foods you eat rather than adding more calories. Consider starting your own personal transition by choosing foods like 100-percent bran cereal, whole wheat bread and brown rice instead of sugar-coated breakfast cereal, white rice and white bread.
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