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Originally published March 13 2011

Research finds whole grain consumption linked to decreased visceral abdominal fat

by T.M. Hartle

(NaturalNews) A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is one of several studies showing that whole grain intake decreases visceral abdominal fat and is associated with a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Unfortunately, in our nutrition illiterate society carbohydrates as a whole have been ignorantly blamed for excess body fat. Research has shown that those who consume a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains have a decreased risk of disease while those consuming a diet high in refined, processed foods and high in fat have an increased risk of disease.

The research reported dietary habits of 2,834 men and women enrolled in The Framingham Heart Offspring and Third Generation study. The study used MDCT scans to determine the VAT or visceral adipose tissue and SAT or subcutaneous adipose tissue volumes in the participants. A higher level of visceral fat, or fat that surrounds the abdominal organs, has been linked to higher risk of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and other health risk factors.

Paul Jacques, DSc, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA explained the results found in this study: 'Not surprisingly, when we compared the relationship of both visceral fat tissue and subcutaneous fat tissue to whole and refined grain intake, we saw a more striking association with visceral fat.' He went on to explain that this strong association between refined grain intake and increased visceral fat remained even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors that play a role in visceral fat as well such as smoking, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, calories consumed from fat and physical activity.

This study also found that if refined grain consumption exceeded 4 servings per day no benefits were seen. Therefore, a combination of whole grain and refined grain consumption does not provide a benefit. The researchers concluded that whole grains must replace refined grain in the diet, not simply be an addition to a processed food diet.

An article written in The Physician and Sports Medicine in 2008 stated there is a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and even some forms of cancer in individuals who have the highest consumption of whole grain foods as opposed to those who eat very little to no whole grain foods. Research continues to show the importance of a whole food diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and yet the medical community continues to promote pharmaceutical medications and to discourage the idea that diet has any relation to health.

The findings in this latest research give direction for individuals who are interested in improving their health and reducing the risk of age related disease. The health improvements seen in high consumption of whole grains may be related to the protein, fiber, antioxidants and other health promoting constituents found in whole grains. According to the Mayo Clinic, soluble fiber found in whole grains lowers cholesterol and glucose levels in the body and can improve blood glucose levels in diabetics. High fiber foods signal the stretch receptors in the stomach indicating satiety with fewer overall consumed calories. As a part of the collective effort to reduce obesity and lifestyle related diseases, replacing refined grains with whole grain foods can provide significant improvement in overall health.



About the author

T.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen.

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