Cut your disease risk

Older women can reduce their risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses simply by eating one serving of whole grains each day, according to a new U.S. study. The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which involved 38,740 women aged 55 to 69, found that women with higher intakes of whole grain had healthier lifestyles and less disease.

The study followed the women for nine years, using questionnaires to determine whole grain intake, which varied from fewer than one to more than three servings per day. The medical researchers estimated that daily consumption of whole grain foods reduced mortality in the study group by about 15 percent.

Doctors point out that while a lot of attention has been given to the consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, the importance of whole (versus refined) grains has been largely ignored. Several years ago, a number of studies found positive links between oatmeal consumption and reductions in heart disease, and new research has shown that most whole grains have a very positive effect on various parts of the body.

While this study only involved women, others have shown that whole grains have a posive effect on men’s health as well. So eat your Wheaties, porridge, and bran flakes, and know that you’re getting a lot more than the immediate digestive benefits of whole grains.