Eating porridge in later life can help you avoid the dreaded middle-aged spread, according to a new study. Researchers from Tufts University in Boston monitored 3,000 people in their mid-50s and found that those who ate three servings of wholegrains a day had waist sizes two inches less than those who didn't consume the same amount, as well as lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels.
The US researchers believe the wholegrains found in oats, as well as brown bread and brown rice, are the key to midlife weight loss.
"Our findings suggest that eating wholegrain foods as part of a healthy diet delivers health benefits beyond just helping us lose or maintain weight as we age,” says Nicola McKeown, one of the study's authors.
"In fact, the data suggests that people who eat more wholegrains are better able to maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Managing these risk factors as we age may help to protect against heart disease.”
Caleigh Sawicki of Tufts University says: “There are several reasons that wholegrains may work to help people maintain waist size and reduce increases in the other risk factors. The presence of dietary fibre in wholegrains can have a satiating effect, and the magnesium, potassium and antioxidants may contribute to lowering blood pressure.
"Soluble fibre in particular may have a beneficial effect on post-meal blood sugar spikes.”
The study’s authors also found that nuts, chicken, seafood and yoghurt are among the foods you should be eating to avoid putting on weight as you age.
The researchers examined the diets of 120,000 men and women in the US over 16 years. They found that those with diets that were high in red meat, white bread, potatoes and sweets were associated with more weight gain, while nuts, skinless chicken, seafood and yoghurt can all help people lose weight as they get older.
The study also looked at whether eating certain foods as part of the same meal contributed to people's weight.
Eating foods linked with weight gain, such as red meat, with vegetables mitigated the weight gain.
Although dairy products such as cheese and milk didn't contribute to weight gain or loss themselves, when they were served with foods high in starches and sugar they were linked to weight gain.