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Numbers Game: Answer

Brown-RiceA review of  major heart health studies published in the Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases journal found that people who consume at least 2.5 servings of whole grains a day have a 21 percent lower risk of developing a cardiovascular disease than those who eat two (or less) servings of whole grains a week.

This figure takes into account other dietary changes, so it goes beyond the idea that individuals who eat higher amounts of  whole grains have healthier overall diets.

Keep in mind that grain servings are quite small — a mere half cup of cooked brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and  oatmeal all count.

The idea here is to replace as many of the refined grain products in your diet (white rice, white bread, etc.) with whole grain ones, not simply add whole grain foods to your current diet.

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3 Comments

  1. Dave said on February 10th, 2010

    Andy,

    What do you think of this article on whole grains?
    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/05/nutritional-numerology.html

  2. Andy Bellatti said on February 10th, 2010

    Wow, that is one scattered article. It attemps to cover 25 million angles at once.

    My thoughts:

    1) The whole “in the late 1800s, unrefined diets were used by religious figures to promote puritanical lifestyles” is irrelevant. No one is talking about minimally processed diets in the context of “avoiding immoral sexuality” or “as a defense against the alcohol demon” anymore (thank goodness!). I don’t even understand that point the author is trying to make — that we are simply repeating diets from religious leaders of the past?

    2) The idea that there is no credible evidence regarding whole grain consumption being superior to a diet mainly made up of refined grains is also silly. She is using a small handful of meta-analysis studies to make the point that ALL studies on fiber are baseless. Not a strong argument, in my opinion.

    3) Yes, coffee and beer have fiber. That’s not earth-shattering news. I am surprised, however, that the author wonders why dietary recommendations don’t tell people to drink more coffee or beer. Simple — a cup of quinoa, or a cup of brown rice, delivers a lot more than just fiber. They offer protein and a good amount of minerals. It is true that coffee contains its share of antioxidants and polyphenols (which is why 16 to 24 ounces a day are beneficial), but the idea is to recommend foods that give you as much “bang for your buck”.

    4) The author also makes the claim that “apparently fiber in bad foods doesn’t count.” It’s not that it doesn’t count, it’s just that it makes absolutely no sense to recommend a processed food laden with added sugars simply because it has fiber. It’s nutritionism at its worst.

    5) The article is hinged on the fact that “nutritionists think white bread is evil”. That’s mostly in the author’s head, though. The idea is to make as many of your grains whole, but I have yet to hear a nutritionist say “don’t even THINK about having that sandwich on white bread!”

    So, bottom line, that article left me rather cold.

  3. dave said on February 10th, 2010

    Andy,

    Oh thanks for that timely review, wow! I hate being one of those “What do you think about THIS ” people but your reasoned analysis goes a long way to help me learn how to parse through future interweb articles. :) Again, thanks for the great work you do!

    -dave

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