CALORIE CUTTERS, TAKE NOTE: Not only can wholegrain foods keep you feeling satiated longer than some of their white counterparts, they may also help prevent heart attacks. When dieters ate four to five servings of whole-grain foods daily, they reduced their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, by 38 percent compared with those who ate only refined grains, found a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "CRP is produced by the body in response to injury or illness," says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. "Consistently high levels may contribute to the hardening of your arteries and raise your risk for stroke or a heart attack."
While both groups shed pounds over the 12-week study, subjects who consumed whole grains lost a significantly higher percentage of fat in their midsection (abdominal obesity is another risk factor for heart problems). The researchers say the antioxidants in whole grains may help lower CRP levels by decreasing damage to your cells, tissues, and organs. They recommend getting your servings from higher-fiber foods such as brown rice, ready-to-eat cereal, and whole-wheat bread and pasta.