Whole-grain Foods Lessen Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  3/9/2006 5:04:20 AM

News You Can Use For March 2006

Older adults who consume nearly three servings of whole-grain foods daily are significantly less likely to have "metabolic syndrome," a condition that increases the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.

That was the finding of a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says metabolic syndrome results from at least three of various health risks, including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, low HDL "good" cholesterol or high blood fats.

Between 1981 and 1984, researchers studied three-per-day food records and blood tests provided by 535 healthy male and female participants older than 60. They also conducted a subsequent 12- to 15-year follow-up study to assess the causes of death among participants during those years.

The participants were ranked into four groups based on lowest to highest whole-grain consumption. Based on the middle value for each group's intake, group 1 had a 0.3 serving daily, group 2 had a 0.9 serving daily, group 3 had 1.5 servings daily and group 4 had 2.9 servings daily.

Those in the group 4 were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome as those group 1. That pattern was seen independent of gender, ethnicity and other lifestyle factors.

Group 4 members also were found to have a significantly smaller risk of dying from heart disease than those in group 1. Whether the participants changed their diets during the follow-up period, however, is unknown.

The authors concluded that adults of all ages should increase the amount of whole grains they eat to three or more servings daily.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation is, "Make half your grains whole." Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta.

Reames advises to look for the word "whole" on the ingredients list in foods containing wheat, rice, oats or corn.

For additional information about the Dietary Guidelines, contact your parish extension agent. For related nutrition information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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