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Ancient Grains May Lower Cholesterol, Blood Glucose Levels

Both high cholesterol and high blood glucose are leading risk factors for heart attack and stroke. A recent study suggests that eating bread made from ancient grains may help lower cholesterol and blood glucose.

Participants in the study included 45 healthy adults with an average age of 50. The study consisted of three different interventions. During the first intervention, 22 of the participants were given organically cultivated bread, while the other 23 were given conventionally cultivated bread. Both breads were made using the ancient grain Verna. For the second intervention, they consumed bread made with Blasco, a modern grain. And for the final intervention, they ate bread containing two ancient grain varieties (Gentil Russo and Autonomia B), both of which were grown conventionally. The researchers took blood samples at the beginning of the study and at the end of each intervention.

The researchers noted significant decreases in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose levels after the ancient grain interventions, regardless of whether they were organically or conventionally grown. They also noted increases in circulating endothelial progenitor cells, which play an important part in repairing damaged blood vessels, after the ancient grain interventions. They did not note any changes after the modern grain intervention.

Researchers from the University of Florence conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 9, 2016, in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

Ancient grains include sorghum, quinoa, teff, millet, amaranth, spelt, certain strains of wheat, and heirloom varieties of red or black rice and blue corn. Previous studies suggest that eating more ancient grains might be easier to digest that modern grains and that they have higher levels of protein and fiber.


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