Whole grains add their venerable name to the list of protective foods against heart disease. According to a recent new Harvard Medical School study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which involved more than 75,000 women, eating a diet rich in whole-grain foods like whole-grain breads, cereals and brown rice, may significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Harvard researchers studied dietary patterns of more than 75,000 women over a 10-year period. They found that women who ate about 2.5 servings of whole-grain foods daily might reduce their risk for heart disease by more than 30 percent compared to those who ate virtually no whole-grain foods. Women with lower risk of heart disease, such as those who have never smoked or are not overweight, may reduce their risk even further by including whole-grain foods in their diet.

Unfortunately, results of a recent survey of 1000 adults found that 65 percent of Americans do not eat three servings of whole grains daily, the amount having the greatest protective benefit in the Harvard study and the number of servings recommended by the American Dietetic Association. When asked why they don't eat more servings of whole grains, 22 percent of respondents indicated that they think they already eat enough grains and 12 percent of surveyed adults said they are not aware of whole-grain food sources.

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