The Whole-Foods Diet (cont.)

"Foods are a better way to get fiber than supplements. You get the whole package," says Martin O. Weickert, MD, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition. That's because most plant foods have both types of fiber (soluble and insoluble).

Eating fiber-rich foods is linked to control of blood sugar, blood lipids (fats), and weight in adults, according to researchers from the Georgia Prevention Institute who recently did a study on whole-grain foods and abdominal fat in teenagers.

  • Fewer 'extras.' Whole foods are as nature made them, without added fat, sugar, or sodium. Eating more whole foods will help you cut down on calories from the added fats and sugars we get from processed and fast foods.
  • Whole grains. You might think the benefits of whole grains have mostly to do with fiber, but there's so much more than that. "Whole grains are rich in a myriad of vitamins, minerals and phytochemical compounds that, alone or in combination, are likely to have significant health benefits that are beyond that from dietary fiber," notes Simin Liu, MD, ScD, a researcher and professor of epidemiology at the University of California-Los Angeles.

    Want to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and improve your cholesterol levels? Then switch to whole grains. Whole-grain foods have recently been linked to lower levels of blood glucose and insulin after meals. And according to Liu, research consistently supports the premise that eating more whole-grain foods can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

    Eating more whole grains may also lead to less visceral adipose tissue - a type of fat that's deposited between the organs and the abdominal muscles, and is thought to be particularly unhealthy. A Georgia Prevention Institute study that measured the abdominal fat and food intake of 460 teenagers concluded that whole-grain foods may help protect against the accumulation of this type of fat in some teens.

  • 6 Ways to Add Whole Foods to Your Diet

    So just how do you go about getting more whole foods in your diet? Here are six simple steps to take:

    • Choose products with 100% whole grains whenever possible.
    • Replace half the white flour called for in your baking recipes with whole-wheat flour. Also, use half the amount of sweetener when you can.
    • Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Try to include them in almost every meal and snack.
    • Include beans in your meals and snacks more often. They are a great source of plant protein, fiber, phytochemicals, and other nutrients.
    • Eat fewer convenience and processed foods. They're often loaded with added fat, sugar, salt, and additives.
    • Don't forget your beverages. Go for nonsugary options such as water, mineral water, green tea (iced or hot), fresh fruit juice, and skim or soy milk.

    Published June 22, 2006.

    SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, August 2005; vol 105: p. 67. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2003, vol 77: pp 527-529. American Institute for Cancer Research press release, May 2006. WebMD Medical News: "Fiber Good, and Not Just for Your Gut." Simin Liu, MD, ScD, researcher and professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles. Agnes Rimando, PhD, researcher, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service National Center for Natural Products Research. Ashley Hawkins, national media relations coordinator, Whole Foods Market-Central, Austin, Texas. Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor, American Institute for Cancer Research

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