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Wilburn: Hearty whole grains reduce health risks

POSTED: February 10, 2008 5:05 a.m.

Currently most Americans consume less than a single serving of whole grains daily. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 diet recommends eating 6 ounces of grain products every day, and at least half (3 ounces) of this amount should be whole grains.

This recommendation is based on a 2,000-calorie diet; therefore, you may need to eat more or less, depending on your calorie level.

Health experts recommend that adults consume 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber daily. The exact amount you need depends on your age, sex and level of physical activity. Go to www.MyPyramid.gov for your personal plan.

Reducing risks

Whole grains are important sources of fiber and other nutrients. Consuming a diet rich in whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may reduce the risk for:

Coronary heart disease*

High blood cholesterol

Certain types of cancer

Type 2 diabetes

Constipation and diverticulosis

Being overweight (when eating at least 3-ounce equivalents of whole grains daily)**

A woman having a baby with a spinal cord or brain defect.

*In a study funded by USDA Agricultural Research Service, women with a history of heart disease who ate six or more servings of whole grains weekly had slower progression of atherosclerosis. That is a condition in which plaque builds up and narrows the passageways through which blood flows.

**In another recent ARS study, people who ate at least three servings of whole-grain foods per day were less likely to have metabolic syndrome. That is a condition marked by a combination of abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL "good" cholesterol, high blood pressure and poor blood sugar control — all of which increase risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension Service. Contact: 770-535-8290.



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