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Consistent with recommendations from leading cancer and heart disease authorities, my recommended Daily Dozen includes at least three daily servings of whole grains. One serving can be considered a half cup of hot cereal such as oatmeal, cooked grain such as rice (including the “pseudograins” amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa), cooked pasta, or corn kernels; a cup of ready-to-eat (cold) cereal; one tortilla or slice of bread; half a bagel or english muffin; or three cups of popped popcorn.

Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study have found that people who eat more whole grains, including corn, tend to live significantly longer lives independent of other measured dietary and lifestyle factors. Indeed, eating whole grains appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and stroke. Take note of the whole, however. While whole grains, such as corn, oats, whole wheat, and brown rice, have been shown to reduce our risk of developing chronic disease, refined grains may actually increase risk.

People who ate the most whole grains had significantly slower narrowing of two of the most important arteries in our body: the coronary arteries that feed the heart and the carotid arteries that feed our brain. Since atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries is our leading killer, we should not just slow down the process but actually stop or even reverse it altogether, and eating more whole grains, whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole beans, and other whole plant foods can help with that.

Image Credit: U. Leone / Pixabay. This image has been modified.

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