Among the many benefits of eating whole-grain foods, such as fiber-rich bread and bran cereal, are a reduction in cholesterol and an increase in the body?s responsiveness to insulin. A 4-year study of nearly 3000 individuals found that, as more whole grains were consumed, insulin levels went down, as did cholesterol levels and the waist-to-hip ratio, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The insulin-lowering effect was especially noticeable in those who were already overweight or obese, probably because they tend to have the highest levels of fasting insulin, according to Paul F. Jacques, DSc, the leader of the study (published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2002). Dr. Jacques is chief of the Jean Mayer Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA.
The recommended amount of whole grain is 3 servings a day. (Most people today barely manage a single serving.)