Today, I want you to throw out the white rice, white bread, and white pasta from your kitchen cabinets. Not only will you notice a difference in your digestive health, you’ll probably see your waistline shrink too. In fact, a study conducted by U.S. researchers confirmed that limiting refined grains translates into less belly fat.
And that’s important, because…
Not all fat is created equal
Visceral Adipose Tissue (or VAT) is a type of fat that’s far more dangerous than thunder thighs or jelly arms. VAT surrounds the organs inside your abdomen. It also plays a major role in the development of some serious health issues.
According to Paul Jacques, co-author of the study, “Prior research suggests visceral fat is more closely tied to the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels and insulin resistance that can develop into cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.”
But there’s one easy way to reduce your visceral fat: Just eat whole grains instead of refined grains.
Whole grains help keep your waistline trim
For the study, researchers examined questionnaires completed by 2,800 men and women ages 32 to 83. They found that men and women who ate three or more servings a day of whole grains had 10 percent less visceral fat. To reap these benefits, the men and women also limited their intake of refined grains to less than one serving per day.
On the other hand, participants who ate three servings of whole grains, but also ate more than four servings of refined grains throughout the day did not see their VAT volume shrink.
This means you can’t just chow down on whole wheat bagel in the morning, then eat white bread the rest of the day and think you’re on the right track. You’re not. You’ve got to replace all the refined grains in your diet with whole grains to cut away at that harmful visceral fat.
Not all grains are created equal
Food manufacturers like to make it tricky for you to spot the whole grain foods. They throw around words like “made with whole wheat” or “made with whole grains.” You’ve probably picked up one of these products before. And you felt good, thinking you’d made a healthy choice.
Instead, they duped you. In reality, the product probably contained very little whole grain. So to help you become a more informed shopper, here’s a basic primer about whole grains…
An unrefined grain means it’s left intact in its original state. It’s not processed in any way. To get a true whole wheat bread, cereal, or pasta, the label must say “100 percent stone ground whole wheat.” There shouldn’t be any second grain listed (unless it’s another whole grain). So read labels carefully!
Also, here are some safer grains too look for when reading labels:
- Short grain brown rice
- Dehulled barley, not pearled
- Whole oats (make your oatmeal the old-fashioned way with whole steel cut oats!)
- 100 percent stone ground whole wheat
- Organic corn (pop it yourself on the stove top)
- Rye (just be careful in choosing bread made with 100 percent rye)
I’m a big believer in limiting the carbohydrates in your diet, but including a reasonable amount of whole whole grains in your diet is healthy. Plus, if you’re a noodle lover like me, I’ve got some great news!
Whole grain noodles have come a long way. Some of the tastiest noodles I’ve found come from artichokes or brown rice. You’ll be surprised by the variety in most good grocery stores. I recommend choosing angel hair pasta. It’s lighter than other whole grain varieties and you won’t need as much. Plus, your waistline will thank you!
Oh, and one final warning: Beware of “enriched” foods. This is the ultimate fraud. It means the manufacturer has stripped the grain of all the important nutrients. Then, they inject a tiny speck of synthetic vitamins back into the flour. But don’t kid yourself. If you see “100 percent unbleached, enriched wheat flour,” it’s still white flour with a few vitamins and molasses (to darken it) added back in.
Dr. Allan Spreen
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