Studies have proven that adults can lower their risk of heart disease by increasing their daily intake of whole grains. The same may hold true for children.
According to researchers from the University of Minnesota children who eat whole grains tend to be leaner and have greater sensitivity to insulin.
Obesity and insulin resistance are strong markers for both heart disease and diabetes. The body uses insulin to regulate sugar metabolism, and loss of sensitivity to this hormone increases diabetes risk.
The team studied 285 children whose average age was 13 in 1996 and followed up with them one and three years later. The investigators measured height, weight and skin-fold thickness. They questioned the children about their dietary habits and activity levels, and gave them tests to measure how they metabolized sugar.
The children in the top third in terms of whole grain intake tended to be the leanest. They also tended to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat, and to have higher activity levels compared with the other two thirds of children.
The children with the highest whole grain intake averaged 1.5 or more servings of whole grains a day. Current U.S. guidelines call for 3 servings a day.
Children with the lowest intake averaged less than a half serving daily.
The researchers specifically asked the children about their intake of oatmeal, brown rice, dark bread, bran, wheat germ, kasha and bulgur wheat.
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