No matter how many servings a day of whole grains you choose to put on your plate, you can bet that’s a smart choice – especially when you eat those grains to replace the meat in your diet. A new study shows that men and women who replaced the meat in their diet with whole grains had a 20 percent lower mortality rate over a period of 25 years than those that continued to eat meat instead of whole grains. In fact, whole grains specifically targeted cardiovascular health, which improved alone by 9 percent, a pretty dramatic increase from just a 28 gram serving a day (about 1/4-1/2 cup serving depending on the grain used).

Why Whole Grains Are the Better Option Versus Meat

Whole grains contain important soluble fibers, especially one particular type known as beta-glucan, which sweeps cholesterol out of the body and also helps steady insulin levels. Whole grains also keep our digestive systems healthy due to fiber and provide key vitamins and minerals in large amounts. For instance, oats, quinoa, amaranth, and teff all offer plentiful sources of iron, potassium, magnesium, protein, and B vitamins. Others such as whole grain rice also provide amino acids, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.

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Meat has been linked to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Though we know it’s best to avoid, a study that confirms these findings is a nice confirmation that we’re making the right choice by replacing meat with plant-based foods, especially whole grains. Whole grains are filled with antioxidants, and are rich in fiber which can help you stay full if you’re having a difficult time replacing the meat in your diet (along with beans, legumes, green and root vegetables).

There’s Even More to The Story

What’s more, is that researchers in the study also accounted for lifestyle factors that could have affected mortality, such as weight, age, daily general diet, smoking, and exercise. They found that the men and women who ate whole grains also tended to exercise, eat other healthy foods, and even reduced or eliminated the smoking and drinking in their daily lives.

It’s important to note that the most important part of the study showed that the bran of 100 percent whole grains (versus whole grain products) was the key piece to the puzzle in extending longevity. That being said, stick to the simple, whole grain option versus a bunch of processed foods with a whole grain label.

Do you need another reason to at your whole grains and put the meat to the side? We don’t! Whole grains are cheaper and just as versatile as meat, if not more. See all of our recipes to try out your first whole grain recipe today! Choose from: oats, barley, quinoa, brown, rye, black or wild rice, millet, whole wheat kernels or wheat berries, freekah, teff, amaranth, or any other whole grain you enjoy and aim to get around 1/2 cup – 1 cup daily.

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Lead Image Source: Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr