Whole grains and heart health
Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Whole grain packs a 1-2 punch when it comes to managing your weight. Research shows people who eat whole grain tend to have healthier body weights and gain less weight over time.
Whole grains provide carbohydrates, the body's main energy source. The brain, heart and nervous system need a steady supply of energy to do their jobs.
Working whole grain foods into your diet is important. A simple way to start is to substitute refined grain products, like white bread, with whole grain alternatives. When it comes to cereal, look for varieties that contain at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving. You can also look at the product's ingredients to see if the word "whole" appears before different varieties of grains, or to see if whole grain is the first ingredient.
For the average 2,000-calorie per day food plan, most adults need 6-ounce equivalents of grain every day. Think of 1 ounce as a slice of bread, a cup of many ready-to-eat cereals, or a 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or hot cereal. Aim to make at least half of your grains whole by having 3-ounce servings of whole grain every day for a total of at least 48 grams of whole grain.
General guidelines for "heart-healthy" eating
Whole grain – Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Strive to consume at least 48 grams of whole grain per day. More and more evidence suggests people who choose more whole grain as part of a healthy diet tend to have healthier body weights than those who don’t.
Fruits and vegetables – Not only delicious and colorful, fruits and vegetables add vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet.
Soluble fiber from oats – Some soluble fibers, like beta glucan found in whole grain oats*, can act like a kind of "sponge" to help soak up some of the cholesterol in the body so the body gets rid of it naturally. Whole grain oat cereals may contain soluble fiber. Look on the nutrition facts panel of cereals like original Cheerios, Honey Nut and Honey Nut Medley Crunch Cheerios to find their soluble fiber content. Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods like Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch Cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios provides 1 gram per serving, Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch cereal provides 0.75 grams per serving.
Foods low in saturated fat – Choose lean meats, poultry and fish that are baked, broiled or grilled, and low-fat dairy, reduce saturated fat in your diet.
Some moderation in general – Using herbs and spices instead of salt, limiting alcohol intake, finishing off a good meal with fresh or baked fruit or sorbet, and saving indulgence for those special occasions are simple steps to put moderation into practice.
* Studies show that three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, like Cheerios cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios cereal provides one gram per serving.