2021 Study Shows Eating More Whole Grains Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Between work, taking care of the kids, and finding those few minutes to relax, it can feel like following a healthy diet is just too much to ask. But, don’t be overwhelmed by good nutrition. Little changes to our diet mean a lot and can make a big difference in helping us lead healthier lives. One of those changes is as simple as eating more whole grains, which, according to a new Framingham Offspring Cohort study at Boston University, could help reduce cardiovascular disease, the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, tracked over 3,000 middle aged adults, and placed them into groups based on their daily whole grain intake. The participants checked in with the researchers every four years and were analyzed for a variety of common risk factors of heart disease, including waist size, blood pressure, and triglycerides. After 18 years, results from the study showed that participants who consumed three servings or more of whole grains per day reduced their risk of developing risk factors for heart disease when compared to those who only ate half a serving or less of whole grains per day who had no risk reduction at all.
Whole grains naturally contain more fiber than refined grains. Fiber helps the body feel fuller longer, and since they are digested more slowly, also helps maintain a more consistent blood sugar level. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) support this research and recommend Americans consume at least three servings of whole grains per day.
Incorporating more whole grains into your diet is easier than you think, especially when you use whole grain pasta! Whole grain pasta can replace regular pasta at any meal with no change in taste or quality. Even better, whole grain pasta provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, antioxidants, and zinc. The easiest way to incorporate more whole grain pasta into your meals is to prepare foods that follow the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet places emphasis on whole grains, fresh veggies, lean meat like seafood and chicken, and other natural ingredients to create healthy meals that taste great. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits from eating whole grains, the Mediterranean Diet has also been shown to preserve cognitive function, so you can have a fit body and mind.
Don’t let a “diet” scare you. You can still eat the foods you like, while adding whole grains alongside them. For example, try this Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Chicken with Orzo. If you love spinach and artichoke dip but want a healthier, whole grain option, than this dish is perfect for you. Additionally, you can eat whole grain pasta for lunch by making a pasta bowl, like this Chicken Pasta Power Bowl with Avocado Dressing. It has a similar taste to your favorite fast food bowl—only healthier. Not only will you get a full serving of whole grains in this dish, but also protein from lean chicken, and vitamins and minerals from the fresh veggies!
Incorporating whole grains into your diet is good for your heart, waistline, and overall health, and you can still eat versions of all the food you love. Get started by adding whole grain pasta to your next meal!