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Whole Grains May Reduce Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Elderly
New studies demonstrate benefits of high-fiber diet
Jeff Leach (zinjboss)     Print Article 
Published 2006-02-07 19:51 (KST)   
©2006 Elke Rohn

Older adults who may want to reduce their risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and similar afflictions can get ahead in the game by eating a diet rich in whole-grain foods, nutritionists at Tufts University reported recently.

In a study published in the recent issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at the university's Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, examined the relationship between whole-grain intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors, metabolic syndrome, and the incidence of death due to cardiovascular disease in the elderly.

"What's unique about our study is that we went back to data that was collected 20 years ago, using diet records that captured food intake, and found that whole-grain foods had a subsequent benefit in the elderly," said Dr. Nicola McKeown, a scientist with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

"The ability of researchers to differentiate whole grains from refined grains more accurately through the use of diet records is a major advantage when assessing dietary intake," McKeown added.

"Based on the research, whole-grain intake is one modifiable dietary risk factor that may lead to substantial health benefits at the population level, even among an older population. Older adults should be encouraged to increase their daily intake of whole grain foods to three or more servings a day by substituting whole grains for refined grains."

Researchers said a diet based on whole-grain foods will affect particularly elderly people prone to greater insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance. They found that as people ate more whole grain, their fasting blood sugar levels were indeed lower, but higher intake of refined grain was linked to higher blood sugar levels.

Elevated fasting blood sugar levels can indicate impaired glucose tolerance and a presence of diabetes. In addition, people who consumed high amounts of refined grains had twice the risk of having metabolic syndrome than those people who consumed the fewest servings of refined grains.

McKeown cautioned that subjects in the study were not a representative sample of the elderly, which leaves researchers unclear as to the implications of whole-grain intake on other age groups.
Jeff Leach is an anthropologist who specializes in evolutionary trends in human nutrition and its application to modern health and well-being. You can read more at his Web site.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Jeff Leach

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