Whole Grains Part 1: Reduce Inflammation and Manage Weight

Christine Miller Health Guide
  • Read Part 2: Jazz Up Holiday Cooking with Whole Grains


    Looking for something new and interesting to liven up holiday meals or take to a holiday party?  Want to hold off those holiday pounds?  Worried about holiday stress and activity causing a flare of RA? Try adding whole grains to your daily and special menus this holiday season.


    Why?  Whole grains do some amazing things.  Eating whole grains has been associated with lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome and with cutting the risk of colon cancer by as much as 1/3.


    They're also packed with fiber and vitamins and some grains, like quinoa (really a seed, but often considered a grain), are high in protein and amino acids.  So they are a low fat, high fiber way of reducing body weight.

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    For example, the Harvard Nurses' Health Study found that women who consume more whole grains weigh less than women who don't.  Also, researchers at Penn State University published study results last winter finding that people who ate whole grains lost more abdominal weight than participants who ate all refined grains.  The study monitored 50 obese people for 12 weeks.  Participants all followed a program of moderate exercise, nutrition and weight loss counseling and followed similar diets (five daily services of fruits and vegetables, three services of low-fat dairy, and two services of lean meat, fish or poultry).  The difference was that one group ate all servings of grains using foods made with whole grains and the other group ate only refined grains like white rice and regular pasta.  While both groups lost about the same amount of weight, 8-11 pounds, over 12 weeks, the whole grain group lost significantly more abdominal weight.  Abdominal weight is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. 


    Second, recent studies including the Penn state study, have shown that whole grains lower inflammation in the body by lowering levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, probably due to the high fiber content of whole grains.  CRP is a marker of inflammation in the body that is associated with RA and other inflammatory conditions.  In the Penn state study, the whole grain group had a 38% decrease in C-reactive protein levels while the refined grain group showed no decrease in CRP levels.  In addition, a study from the University of South Carolina also found that a high fiber diet (27-28 grams per day) including grains and fresh fruits and vegetables reduced CRP levels.  Unlike the Penn State study, the South Caroline study found that thinner people saw their CRP levels reduced by about 40%, while those who were overweight experienced a reduction of only 10%.  Finally, a German study found that men's CRP levels dropped by 1/3 when they increased servings if fruits and vegetables from 2 per day to 8 per day. 


    Inspired? See Part 2 for recipes from our Foodfit website and tips on purchasing, storing and cooking whole grain foods.


Published On: November 24, 2008