Enjoy Whole Grains for Better Vision and Oral Health

Recognizing Whole Grains Month, September 2011

whole grains

Whole grain foods are sold in many varieties: crackers, pasta, bread, cereal, rice, buckwheat, couscous, quinoa, tortillas, popcorn and oatmeal. It seems that every week we hear news stories touting the health benefits of consuming these grain-enriched foods. But does eating these foods really make a difference? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition, foods made with whole grains can improve your health, including your teeth and eyes.

Consider the following health benefits of whole grain foods.

  • Lowers prevalence of periodontal disease – Individuals with diabetes and hyperglycemia often have a higher occurrence of periodontal disease, an inflammation of the gums that can result in tooth loss; researchers discovered that those who increase their consumption of whole grain foods may experience a 23 percent lower incidence of the disease
  • Reduces harmful proteins contributing to cardiovascular disease – Researchers have discovered that whole grain foods lower harmful C-reactive protein (CRP) levels that can lead to cardiovascular disease; development of CRP may be triggered by periodontal disease
  • Lessens incidences of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes – These health problems can contribute to oral and vision issues
  • Diminishes risks of developing cataracts – When cataracts develop, they make the eye lens cloudy, reducing or blocking vision; medical professionals emphasize the importance of a balanced diet, with a mixture of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to curb cataract development
  • Shrinks risk of cancer, obesity and some chronic diseases – Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, fat, starch, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, which are important to help keep your weight under control and lower your risk of cancer and diseases, as well as maintain healthy eyes and teeth

Although whole grains provide excellent nutritional value, they contain carbohydrates that can contribute to tooth decay. As with all foods that you consume, it is important to brush and floss your teeth daily to maintain good oral health. And to sustain healthy teeth and eyes, remember to schedule regular exams with your dentist and eye doctor.

How many servings of whole grain foods do you consume each day? Which are your favorites? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group