Grains of Truth

5 11 2010

Fret not, fearless reader. Like Indiana Jones we’ve been digging up some interesting facts to share. Although we often speak to using less refined items like whole grain in place of refined all white flour and sugar, the data on the benefits from replacing these items with less adulterated products can be a bit tricky to find.

Previously we have spoken to the high risk type of fat deposition called VAT, or visceral adipose tissue. This is a preferential deposition of fat around the belly area, known as “belly fat.” This type of fat deposition is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular complications, diabetes and metabolic syndrome development. For those adults who regularly consume whole grain options as opposed to refined white flour choices, VAT was approximately 10% lower. Those who ate 3 or more whole grain servings and consumed 1 or less servings of refined grains per day achieved this benefit according to a recent study from Tufts University[i]. “For example, a slice of 100 percent whole-wheat bread or a half-cup of oatmeal constituted one serving of whole grains and a slice of white bread or a half-cup of white rice represented a serving of refined grains”, noted Nicola McKeowan, a co-author of the study. This study was published in The American Journal of Nutrition and examined over 2,800 men and women aged 32 to 83. The study looked at smoking history, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, percentage of calories comprised of fat, and physical activity routines and found the whole grain consumption benefit independent of these other factors. Interestingly, the benefit was lost if more than several daily servings of refined choices was consumed-even with 3 or more whole grain choices.

And while eating a diet rich in fish has demonstrated multiple health benefits, a recent study found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements alone were ineffective in reducing the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study was published in the November issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.[ii]A study of 402 patients showed no benefit in terms of memory decline between those taking supplements and those not. There were no adverse events in those taking supplements. Unlike a recent study looking at Vitamin E which suggested that taking Vitamin E not only did not reduce stroke risk, but may make it worse[iii]. The study published in The British Medical Journal failed to demonstrate any reduction in overall stroke risk for those taking Vitamin E. Those who suffered a stroke while taking Vitamin E had a 22% increased risk of a more severe type of stroke (hemorrhagic). There was a small (~10%) in non-hemorrhagic stroke. The authors conclude that “(g)iven the relatively small risk reduction of ischaemic stroke and the generally more severe outcome of haemorrhagic stroke, indiscriminate widespread use of vitamin E should be cautioned against.”

Eat simply and fresh, live well and simply.

[i] (HealthDay, 2010)

[ii] (Quinn, et al., 2010)

[iii] (Schurks, Glynn, Rist, Tzourio, & Kurth, 2010)



4 responses

5 11 2010
E Stelling

Great information- I have been eating a lot more high protein rich meals, lots of fish, chickpeas and such, so I hope we are headed in the right direction!

Chef E

5 11 2010

Thank you for the wise advice; well taken.

6 11 2010

Interesting that refined products cancel out whole-grained. I particularly appreciate the study taking into effect many variables of lifestyle and a wide range of age- even if only 2800 subjects.

I also feel less guilty about forgetting to take O-3 supplements! :D. What do you have to say about calcium supplements, Doc?

7 11 2010

It would seem that reasearch is showing us that putting anything processed our mouths, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, isn’t too good for us. iPads are great, but there’s something to be said for an Agrarian society… or, at least a Whole Foods store.

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