Whole Grains & Your Heart
A recent review published in The American Journal of Cardiology found an association between high intake of whole grains and reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD occurs when sticky plaque builds up in your arteries; this plaque build-up is a problem because it can block arteries that are important in transporting oxygen rich blood to your heart.
Over the years, the dietary guidelines have adjusted to emphasize whole grains. This can specifically be seen in the dietary guideline changes from 1977 to 2010; in 2010, the US Dietary Guidelines emphasized fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. However, Americans are not consuming enough whole grains.
You can easily add whole grains to your diet, and even simply adjust some of your favorite recipes. Here are a few great substitutions to get more whole grains throughout your day:
Substitute half the white flour when baking with whole wheat flour. This works great in cookies, muffins, and pancakes.
Experiment with less common whole grains such as barley, bulgar, and quinoa. These all make great side dishes to a nice entree.
Swap out white bread for whole wheat toast. Try my personal favorite bread called Ezekiel Bread!
Popcorn is a great source of whole grains! Just don't drown it in butter. Try to buy popcorn with minimal added toppings, or freshly pop it yourself! Add a bit of sea salt and enjoy :)
If you're not willing to completely commit to a whole grain cereal, try substituting half of your cereal with bran flakes or another cereal rich in whole grains.
Start your day with a delicious bowl of oatmeal! Check out my blog post on creative oatmeal toppings :)
Source: Tang G, Wang D, Long J, et al. Meta-analysis of the association between whole grain intake and coronary heart disease risk. Am J Cardiol. 2015; 115(5): 625 - 629.