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Whole Grain Benefits

Eat Lignans, a Hidden Health Hero, to Reduce Heart Disease



A new study just published found that a small but powerful plant compound called lignans can protect against cardiovascular disease, and there is more evidence that lignans can even protect against breast and prostate cancer. Here is everything you need to know about lignans, where to find them, and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Lignans are a type of polyphenol, which are plant chemicals that contain antioxidants and other compounds that provide wide-ranging health benefits in the body. Polyphenols can be flavonoids, stilbenes, phenolic acids, lignans, and other botanicals – but this study focused on lignans and, in particular, what happens to people who eat them richly. Or what doesn’t happen: You won’t get heart disease.

“Lignans are polyphenols that are converted by intestinal bacteria into enzymes that seem to reduce the risk of heart disease,” explains Dr. Joel Kahn, cardiologist and herbalist who is now encouraging all of his patients to consume lignans. “I used to tell them to eat more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. My patients who are vegan and who are not vegan are missing both, but now I’m telling them to eat lignans, ”said Dr. Kahn recently in an interview.

(Confusion Warning: Lignans are not to be confused with lignins, which are the structural materials in the supporting tissues of most plants and are also found in fruits and vegetables.)

What are lignans and why should we eat more of them?

“Lignans are a top-secret nutrition hero,” explains Dr. Kahn, founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity and Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “You hear about lectins and everyone is afraid to eat a lentil and you hear about fiber. But lignans are a chemical class of polyphenols.

“What’s really exciting – and that’s why I’m thrilled – is that the Journal of American Cardiology has published this study in the past ten days, which looked at more than 214,000 men and women who had followed them in epidemiological nutrition studies for years .

“What food source has been linked to fewer heart attacks, longer lifespans, fewer bypasses, and fewer stents? Lignans! The more lignans in your diet, the less likely it is that Americans are the number one killer, and that is heart disease “says Dr. Kahn. The opposite was also true: the less lignans people ate, the higher their risk of heart disease.

The study found “a strong association with total lignan intake through food and cardiovascular disease (CDH) events” in a broad population, examined years of data looking at what they ate, and found that those who who ate the lignans, fewer cases of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and all the usual symptoms of heart disease.

“To be fair, there is also fiber in lignan-rich foods, so it’s not just the lignans in most plant-based foods, but also the fiber that can be beneficial for heart health,” emphasizes Dr. Boat. “So it’s a one-two. But the study found that it was particularly lignans, a fiber rich in polyphenols that helps fight heart disease and increase longevity.”

What foods contain lignans: Flaxseed is high on the list

Lignans are found in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains, and oilseeds, but they are most abundant in flaxseed and also in sesame seeds and other plant-based foods. Dr. Kahn now even goes so far as to give patients small packets of flaxseed filled with lignans, fiber and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. “So it’s a win-win-win situation,” he adds.

Dr. Joel Kahn says, given the latest study results, it would be advisable to add flaxseed to our smoothies, salads, oatmeal, sprinkle them on avocado toast, and more. The study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology found that “increased long-term use of lignans in both men and women was associated with a significantly lower risk of total cardiovascular disease.”

The top 2 foods rich in lignans that everyone should include in their diet

  • linseed contain 85 milligrams of lignans per ounce and make flaxseed the winner by far. According to sources, flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant-based foods.

“If they were to give an academy award for lignans, it would be given to ground flaxseed,” says Dr. Boat. “Ground flaxseed has so many health benefits – from lowering cholesterol to fighting heart disease to reducing the risk of cancer.”

“These are the unsung heroes of a heart-healthy diet,” claims Dr. Boat. “So every time you add a few tablespoons of flaxseed to your oatmeal, smoothies or salad, you’re adding 85 milligrams of lignans to your diet,” says Dr. Boat. That is why he gives flaxseed to his patients. “I would recommend people avoid linseed oil and just go for the high-fiber ground flaxseed,” he adds.

  • Sesame seeds contain 11 milligrams of lignans per ounce, the second richest lignan food. “I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping sesame seeds in my office for my lunch,” explains Dr. Boat.

“The second strongest lignan-rich food is sesame seeds. It contains 11 milligrams of lignans per ounce – not 85, so not that much – but it’s number two in lignans. Sesame seeds also lower cholesterol and have plant sterol and they are the unsung hero of plant foods

Other lignan-rich foods

Kale, broccoli, apricots, strawberries, apples, and bananas all contain small amounts of lignans – but less than 1 milligram per serving. Lignans are also found in pumpkin seeds and legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, all of which contain lignans as well as fiber and have been shown to be protective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, “A diet high in foods rich in plant-based lignans (whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruits and vegetables) has been consistently associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease Probably linked to the numerous nutrients and phytochemicals found in these foods that help protect your heart. “All of these foods are good for you,” explains Kahn, “but you can’t get over 85 milligrams in an ounce of flaxseed and 11 Beat milligrams in an ounce of sesame seeds. “

Dr. Kahn adds that as a proponent of plant origin it is important to point out that only plant foods contain lignans, not meat or dairy products or poultry: “How much lignans are in meat?” he asks rhetorically. “Big zero! Goose egg!”

He says he keeps a large mason jar of ground flaxseed on the counter in his kitchen and adds flaxseed to his meals and snacks throughout the day. But in his office he keeps small envelopes of flaxseed ready to hand out to patients.

“When I send my patients home with it [flax seeds] I tell them that they need these for omega-3 fatty acids. I always check their blood for omega-3s, and all of my patients, whether vegans or meat-eaters, are omega-3s deficient. So now there’s another reason flaxseed is crazy. “

Lignans have plant-based estrogen and antioxidant properties. Does that make them unhealthy?

Lignans are phytoestrogens, but since they look like estrogen but don’t act like estrogen, they can be thought of as “blockers” that bind to estrogen receptors in the body and reduce the amount of estrogen that circulates your body.

Dr. Kahn explains that these plant estrogens, like lignans, “may offer some protection in terms of breast health, according to research by Dr. Kristy Funk [breast cancer doctor, researcher, author, and speaker]At the cellular level, phytoestrogens act more like an estrogen blocker, even if we call them “plant estrogens”.

The opposite, according to Dr. Kahn and others, is that when you eat animal products like chicken and beef or ham from a female animal, you are getting real estrogen in the meat products. And these estrogens can interact with the estrogen receptors in your body. So when you eat these animal foods – as well as real dairy products – you are getting real estrogen into your body, explains Dr. Boat.

But soy estrogen isn’t actually an estrogen, adds Dr. Kahn added. The plant estrogens can mimic estrogen and they actually block estrogen. When you’re getting estrogen from soy protein, he adds, your own circulating estrogen can’t interact with the estrogen because it’s blocked. The data says that if you eat plant-based estrogens, you lower your risk of breast cancer.

Bottom Line: Eat flaxseed daily to include lignans in your diet to help protect against heart disease.

The more people ate lignans, the lower their risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and stents, according to a new study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology. Flax seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart healthy, and fiber, which is beneficial for intestinal health. Flaxseeds are a win, win, win, according to Dr. Boat.

For more great health and nutritional content, check out The Top 20 Sources of Fiber, Unsung Heroes of Your Diet, and The 6 Most Protein Seeds.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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