Adults of all ages
should increase the amount of fiber-rich whole grains they eat to three or more
servings daily, as the 2005 Dietary Guidelines
for Americans recommend. Click the image for more information about
For Optimal Health, Go With the Grains
By Rosalie Marion
Bliss January 26, 2006
Older adults who consumed nearly three servings of whole-grain foods
daily were significantly less likely to have "metabolic syndrome" that
increases the chances of developing diabetes and heart disease, according to a
study funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is the chief scientific research
agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
People must have at least three of the following health
risksabdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control,
low HDL "good" cholesterol and high blood fatsto be considered to have
The findings were published in the January issue of the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The
lead coauthor on the study was Nadine Sahyoun, formerly with the Jean Mayer
USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA)
at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., and now at the
University of Maryland-College Park. Other
Jacques and Nicola McKeown at HNRCA; Xinli Zhang at the University of
Maryland-College Park, and Wenyen Juan with USDA.
Between 1981 and 1984, the researchers studied three-day food records
and blood tests provided by 535 healthy male and female participants older than
60. They also conducted a subsequent 12- to 15-year follow-up to assess the
causes of death among participants during those years.
The participants were ranked into four groups based on lowest to
highest whole-grain intakes. Based on the middle value for each group's intake,
Group 1 had 0.3 serving daily, Group 2 had 0.9 serving daily, Group 3 had 1.5
servings daily, and Group 4 had 2.9 servings daily.
Those in the group with the highest whole-grain consumption were half
as likely to have metabolic syndrome as those in consuming the lowest amounts
of whole grains. That pattern was seen independent of gender, ethnicity and
other lifestyle factors. Those in the group with the highest whole-grain intake
also were found to have significantly less risk of dying from heart disease
than those in the group with the lowest intake. However, whether the
participants changed their diets during the follow-up period is unknown.
The authors concluded that adults of all ages should increase the
amount of whole grains they eat to three or more servings daily.