People eating whole grain foods have a reduced risk of almost all the chronic diseases and are less likely to gain weight as they age, a leading nutritionist says.

Dr Julie Miller Jones was speaking at a recent forum organized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIM- MYT).

“All kinds of epidemiological research shows that whole grain intake reduces obesity and the risk of diabetes, coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancers, and death from all causes,” Dr Jones told representatives of food processing companies and associations and scientists at the first “Maize and Wheat Quality and Nutrition Day” conference.

She emphasized that relatively modest amounts of grain in diets can deliver important health benefits.

“We’re talking about eating around three slices of bread, or a bowl of oatmeal with a sandwich, or oatmeal in the morning, with pasta at lunch and rice at night,” explained Dr Miller, who is also Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emerita at St. Catherine University in the United States.

The DNA of cooked grain has been found in the dental remains of Paleolithic humans, showing that people have been eating grain for more than 100,000 years.

She also emphasized the need for balanced diets that feature all food groups in healthy amounts.

“We need to change our diets to healthy patterns that we can maintain for our entire lifetime, not something that you go on to go off,” she said.

“Just as nutrition experts have always recommended, unless you are allergic to a particular food, a healthy diet should include products from all food groups, in the right amounts.”

The Mexico-based CIMMYT works with hundreds of partners throughout the developing world to increase the productivity and quality of maize and wheat cropping systems.

Whole grain
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