The report was published online Feb. 3 in the BMJ.
Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, reviewed the findings.
“We can all benefit by including more whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, kasha, whole wheat, oats and corn, in our daily fare,” Heller said.
Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and protective phytochemicals that are important for health.
In contrast, refined grains contain no fiber. They’re found in sugary cereals, white bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers, pastries, desserts, and fast and junk foods, Heller explained.
“When we consume an overabundance of refined grains, meaning the fiber and nutrients have been removed, we deprive our bodies of these health-promoting nutrients, and they are often replaced with sugar, saturated fat, sodium and empty calories,” she said.
Research has found that dietary patterns rich in fiber, plant foods and whole grains help reduce the risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes, Heller noted.
“We need to balance our dietary patterns to be more fiber-focused and plant-heavy,” she said.
There are many ways to add whole grains to the diet, and people should check products to be sure they’re getting whole grains, Heller advised.
“Try whole wheat tortillas filled with pinto beans, zucchini and carrots; whole grain cereals such as oatmeal or shredded wheat; brown rice topped with stir-fried peppers, broccoli, snap peas and tofu; vegetarian chili made with bulgur, kidney beans and any vegetables you have on hand; or a hummus, tomato and cucumber sandwich on whole multigrain bread,” Heller suggested.
For more on healthy grains, head to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SOURCES: Mahshid Dehghan, PhD, investigator, Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist, NYU Langone Health, New York City; BMJ, Feb. 3, 2021, online