So it seems our mothers were right after all — if you eat up all your porridge, you could enjoy a long and healthy life.
The mothers of the nation didn’t need a scientific study to tell them what they already knew, but the clever folks at Harvard University in the US have, for the first time, examined how wholegrains impact on long-term life span.
The researchers followed more than 100,000 people for well over a decade monitoring their diets and health outcomes. Every subject in the study was healthy in 1984 when it began, but more than 26,000 had died by 2010 when a follow-up was carried out.
However, researchers found those who ate the most wholegrain foods — such as porridge, quinoa, and brown rice — were better protected from a range of illnesses and, in particular, heart disease.
For each ounce of wholegrains eaten per day, the risk of death was reduced by 5% and deaths specifically to heart disease by 9%, the study found.
The positive health findings remained the same even when allowing for different age profiles, smoking habits, body mass index, and a person’s level of physical exercise.
Dr Hongyu Wu of Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said eating more whole grains not only was beneficial to health but may actually increase life expectancy.
“These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole grain consumption to facilitate primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases and also provide promising evidence that suggests a diet enriched with whole grains may confer benefits toward extended life expectancy.”
Wholegrains are rich sources of protein, fibre, vitamin E, B-vitamins, calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in wholegrain, and not simply fibre, may prevent or control diseases such as heart disease, diverticulitis, type 2 diabetes, cancer (especially of the bowel), and obesity.
According to the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, including wholegrains as part of your diet will provide you with many nutrients that can improve your basic health.
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