Want to shave some weight off your waist? Though fad diets are everywhere, a recent study finds that just having more whole grains and less refined grains might do the trick. Participants with the highest whole grain intake (3 servings/day) had about 1 inch smaller waist circumferences compared to those with the lowest intake.
The study compared the whole versus refined grain intake of 2,834 adults (averaging about 50-years-old) to the type of fat they had. The top sources of whole grains were dark bread, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and oatmeal. Meanwhile, pasta, English muffins, and white bread topped the charts of refined grains.
When the researchers looked to closer to see the types of fat associated with grain consumption, the results spoke volumes about visceral fat, which is located deeper in the abdomen, and is associated with risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Those with the highest intake of whole grains had the least amount of visceral fat. The opposite was true with refined grains: those who ate the most refined grains also had the most visceral fat. The detrimental effect of refined grains also had an effect on visceral fat even when the participants ate plenty of whole grains. People who ate both whole and refined grains had higher visceral fat than those who ate exclusively whole grains.
While whole grains sound good for our waistline, their benefits don’t stop there. During processing, refined grains lose many of their vitamins, minerals, and fiber, though these elements remain intact in whole grains, so you enjoy greater nutritional benefit. As previously reported, three servings/day of whole grains might help lower blood pressure. Similarly, they might help lower your risk of diabetes, as well as prevent complications from diabetes if you already have it.
To increase your whole grains intake, include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat couscous
To avoid refined grains, think of white things:
- White bread
- Regular pasta
- Regular couscous
- White rice
- Plain bagel
If you’re not used to whole grains and the taste seems odd, try mixing the two types (white and brown rice, for example) together, and gradually add in more of the whole grain version and less of the refined. Soon you’ll find that the refined version is the odd-tasting one.