Why it really is worth learning to love brown rice, porridge and wholemeal bread
People who eat lots of whole grain foods could be protected against a range of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis and asthma, according to a new study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Whole grains, which are rich in fibre, are already known to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. This is the first study to specifically look at the link with diseases where there is chronic inflammation.
Researchers from University of Minnesota in the US studied the eating habits of nearly 42,000 postmenopausal women over a 15-year period. The women were asked how often they ate whole grains like brown rice, bran, oatmeal and whole grain breakfast cereals.
The team found that those who ate 11 or more portions of whole grains per week were a third less likely to die from an inflammatory disease than those women who rarely ate the grains. The risk was also reduced in women who ate four or more servings of whole grain a week.
The authors believe that special compounds in whole grains, known as phytochemicals, are responsible for their health-boosting properties. These phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants which mop up damaging free radicals in the blood. They could be responsible for reducing inflammation too.
“I personally think that the public would do well to incorporate more whole-grain foods of any type into their diets,” said lead author Dr David R Jacobs.
Phytochemicals generally cannot be found in supplements and must be taken in food.
Other sources include
*Allicin found in onions and garlic; it can help protect against some bacteria and viruses.
*Carotenoids are found in dark yellow, orange, and deep green fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, parsley, oranges, pink grapefruit, and spinach. This nutrient may help prevent certain cancers.
*Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, wine, cocoa and green tea. Thought to help reduce high blood pressure and protect against heart disease.
*Indoles are found in broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. They contain compounds that destroy cancer-causing chemicals.
*Isoflavones are found in soya beans and soya bean products. Thought to help relieve menopausal symptoms and maintain a healthy heart.
*Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. It may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
*Lycopene is found primarily in tomato products. When cooked, it appears to reduce the risk of getting certain cancers and protects against heart attack.