How can bran help me live longer?

Turn up the life-lengthening powers of your baked goods by seeking out this essential ingredient: bran.

Whole grains do great things for both your heart and your longevity. But research shows that bran -- the sturdy outer layer of cereal grains -- may be particularly helpful. In a study of women with type 2 diabetes, those who ate more whole grains -- but especially bran -- enjoyed a big dip in their risk of dying from heart disease or any other cause.

Of course, women with diabetes aren't the only ones who benefit from higher intakes of whole grains and bran. Lots of other studies suggest they're good for all -- man or woman, healthy or not. A preference for whole-grain cereals, breads and pasta could mean lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; improved arterial health and less insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress.

What's so great about unrefined grains? Plenty. They have more fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined grains do. Plus, whole grains have an abundance of antioxidant compounds you won't find on nutrition labels -- compounds that may play a role in some of these grains' health-promoting properties.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.