5 Things To Know About Whole Grains

Two studies released this month came to the same conclusion: Eating whole grains can improve your longevity. That finding supports what we have learned in the blue zones areas, where whole grains are a key part of the diet of the world’s longest-lived people.

Here are five things to know:

  1. What did the new studies say?

The two new meta analysis reviews (studies of studies) found that consuming whole grains reduces your risk of diseases that shorten your life. One published in BMJ analyzed 45 studies and concluded that whole grains can help you live longer by cutting your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease, and infectious diseases. The other report, published in the journal Circulation, reviewed the data in 14 studies that combined had more than 786,000 participants. It noted that for every 16-gram (about a slice of bread) increase in whole grain consumption, mortality risk is cut by 7 percent.

  1. What do they eat in the blue zones regions?

About 65 percent of the diets in the blue zones is whole grains, beans, and starchy tubers. Grains including oats, barley, brown rice, and ground corn also play a key role in the diet.

  1. How many whole grains should I eat?

The BMJ report references the benefits that come from eating 90 grams a day; U.S. dietary guidelines say you should eat at least three servings (one serving is about a slice of whole grain bread, which is roughly 16 grams). A cup of whole grain cereal or a half cup of cooked rice also equals about a serving.

  1. Where should I start?

Breakfast! We recommend whole-grain steel cut oatmeal, with healthy additions like chopped nuts, fresh or dried fruit, flax seed, and spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Or experiment with brown rice for breakfast.

  1. Is bread OK?

Bread can be a great source of whole grain, but limit yourself to two slices a day. Also, look for authentic sourdough bread like they eat in Ikaria – take note that many sourdough breads sold in grocery stores are not traditional, real sourdough. Find a bakery you trust.

For more, get to know the 10 Blue Zones Food Guidelines. For recipes, click here, and pick up a copy of The Blue Zones Solution that includes over 70 recipes inspired by the blue zones cultures and traditions.


Credit: Ben Grove

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