Life After 50
Engaging the 50 plus age group including boomers, seniors and elderly seniors.


Jul 6, 2011, 9:26 a.m.

Excerpt from Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks-Without Prescription Drugs

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN

A patient once said to me, "My grandfather ate oatmeal every morning of his life, and he lived to be a hundred." My response was, "Do what your grandfather did."

"Whole grains also stop inflammation of the arteries, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition," said Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN

Whole-grain oats are tasty and inexpensive and have a long history of health benefits. This simple grain has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, normalize blood sugar, appease the appetite, and ameliorate intestinal problems. Remember the oat bran craze of the 1980s? That phenomenon grew out of an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that began to build during the 1960s, linking oat consumption with dramatic declines in blood cholesterol.

What Makes a Grain Whole?

Whole grains are kernels of grain that are consumed with all three naturally occurring components still intact: the outer fiber-rich bran layer, the middle energy-packed endosperm, and the inner nutrient-rich germ layer. The outer bran holds the mineral cache, with up to 80% of all the minerals found in the kernel concentrated in this coating. The bran also contains fiber, protein, and some B vitamins. The endosperm is a pocket of energy-yielding starch (complex carbohydrate), some protein, iron, and a minuscule amount of B vitamins, all used to nourish the growing seedling. The germ is packed with a goldmine of vitamins including vitamin E (wheat germ is one of the richest sources of vitamin E), B vitamins (especially high in folate), some trace minerals (iron, magnesium, selenium, and potassium), fiber, and phytosterols (plant hormones that lower cholesterol).

Why Whole Grains are Best

When grains are milled or refined, they are stripped of the outer bran and germ layers and thus lose many naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, healthful fats, and phytonutrients. Processing leaves behind only the starchy endosperm. In 1942, the U.S. government passed a law requiring iron and B vitamin enrichment of processed grains to combat vitamin deficiency as a result of eating refined products devoid of their natural lode of vitamins and minerals. This is why when you purchase a refined grain product such as white bread or white rice (made solely from the endosperm of grains), it will by law be "enriched," meaning a few nutrients have been added back—often niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. Unfortunately, what are lost in the processing and not required to be replaced are wholesome nutrients such as fiber; vitamin E; several B vitamins; potassium; minerals such as manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc; and various healthful phytochemicals such as lignans, flavonoids, and saponins. Clearly, whole grains are the far superior choice over refined grains for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients.

Whole Grains for Good Health

A diet rich in whole grains—rather than highly processed, refined grains—has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancers, as well as with lower blood pressure and improved bowel functioning.

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