Having brown bread and porridge as part of your daily diet can cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to a new study.
Researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts found eating three portions of whole grains every day slows the onset of middle-aged spread, as well as keeping blood pressure and blood sugar levels down over time.
Inability to shift excess fat in your 50s increases a person's risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke or heart attack.
The study, published online in the Journal of Nutrition, looked at regular assessments of over 3,100 applicants.
People who ate the fewest whole grains saw their waist size swell by 1.2 inches (3cm) every four years, more than double the amount who ate three daily portions, the official advice of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.
Common portions of whole grains include one slice of whole-grain bread, a half cup of rolled oats cereal, or a half cup of brown rice.
Whole grains contain a fibre-rich outer layer, while the inner germ layer contains B vitamins, antioxidants and small amounts of healthy fats. The nutrients in the bran and germ are lost through milling, leaving only starch-packed refined grain behind.
Dr Nicola McKeown of Tufts University, the report's senior author, said managing your weight, blood sugar and blood pressure as you get older may help to protect against heart disease.
She recommended small switches to move from refined grains to whole grains in daily food consumption, before adding: "Small incremental changes in your diet to increase whole-grain intake will make a difference over time."