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WHOLE GRAINS THE SECRET TO LONGEVITY

Many nutritional guidelines recommend eating more grains, but new research indicates that not just any grain will do.

Harvard University researchers have found that the more whole-grain cereal a man ate, the less likely he was to die over a 5 1/2 -year period. The men studied were part of a group of more than 86,000 physicians who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer in 1982, when the study began. Over the course of the study, 3,114 died, 1,381 of them from cardiovascular disease.

Diet questionnaires revealed that men who ate more than one bowl of whole-grain cereal a day had a 17 percent lower risk of death than those who rarely or never ate whole-grain cereal -- and a 20 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Whole grains lower lipid levels in the blood; improve sensitivity to insulin and glucose tolerance; and contain antioxidants, fiber and healthful B vitamins, folate and minerals.

Paying attention to the whole grain and fiber content in breakfast cereal, and substituting whole-wheat bread for refined bread when making a sandwich, would go a long way toward better health, researchers said.

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