Whole Grains and Cardiovascular Risk

Research appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 87, No. 1, 79-90, January 2008) showed that consumption of whole grains instead of refined grains can reduce abdominal fat and lower CRP levels.  CRP is C-Reactive Protein. When it is high, it indicates inflammation and an increased cardiovascular risk.
The subjects were 50 obese adults with metabolic syndrome. Patients with metabolic syndrome are insulin-insensitive (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), and have high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high LDL (bad cholesterol). People with metabolic syndrome have an increased risk of heart disease. They were randomly assigned to receive dietary advice either to avoid whole-grain foods or to obtain all of their grain servings from whole grains for 12 weeks. All participants were given the same dietary advice in other respects for weight loss.
At the end of the 12 weeks, there was significant lowering of body weight, waist circumference, and percentage body fat in both groups. The group eating the whole grains had a greater decrease in percentage body fat in the abdominal area when compared to the group instructed to eat refined grains. Also, the group eating the whole grains had a 38% reduction in CRP.
Although both groups experienced reduction in cholesterol, the whole grain group fared much better. One reason for the reduction in the CRP may be the fact that whole grains are higher in antioxidant nutrients than refined grains.

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