Whole grains help control women's weight

December 9, 2003 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management, Women's Health

Whole grains help control women's weight

Middle-aged women who favor whole grains over white bread and other refined grains may put on fewer pounds as they age, a large study suggests.

Harvard researchers found that among 74,000 women, those who ate more fiber-rich grains -- such as oatmeal and whole-grain breakfast cereals -- gained less weight over time than women who got the least fiber in their diets.

In addition, women with the highest fiber intake were half as likely as those with the lowest intake to become obese over 12 years. In contrast, diets heavy in refined-grain products like white bread and pasta were linked to greater weight gain over time.

While carbohydrates have lately gotten a bad rap in the weight-loss realm, the new findings underscore the fact that not all carbs are alike. Research suggests that when it comes to weight control, whole grains such as oats, bran and brown rice have an advantage over highly processed, low-fiber grain products. For one, fiber-rich whole grains are more filling, and people who favor them over refined grains may take in fewer calories.

It's also thought that while starchy refined grains cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, whole grains may create a slower, more sustained release of sugar into the blood -- which may have a beneficial effect on metabolism and fat storage.

Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that may get in the way of metabolic efficiency, meaning the body is forced to burn extra calories just to digest and absorb whole-grain foods.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.