Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, anti-oxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
The addition of more whole grains into a healthy diet is associated with a decreased risk of deteriorating glucose tolerance, including progression from normal glucose tolerance to pre-diabetes, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to a research paper titled Food Product Design, dated Dec 26, 2012 published in Health and Nutrition, researchers at Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital investigated whether a higher intake of whole grains protects against the development of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes and tested for modulation by polymorphisms of the TCF7L2 gene. Participants included 5,477 Stockholm residents aged 35 to 56 years who were not diagnosed with diabetes and who kept food journals of how much whole and refined grains they consumed. Researchers measured blood glucose in study participants and followed up 10 years later.
Participants who ate 59 grams of whole grains a day had a 34% lower risk to deteriorate in glucose tolerance compared to those who ate 30 grams of whole grains a day. Risk reduction was significant in men, but not in women. Participants who consumed 59 grams of whole grains a day also had a 27% reduced risk of becoming pre-diabetic.
Whole grains are rich in fibre. Fibre in the diet does not allow the blood glucose levels to rise thereby controls the rise in sugar levels in the body. Fibre also helps in lowering cholesterol as it helps in decreasing the low density lipoprotein whch is bad cholesterol and increases high density lipoprotein which is good cholesterol.
What foods are in the grains group?
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
It is advised that at least half the grains in your diet should be whole grains. Whole-grain versions of rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta can be found at most grocery stores. Many whole-grain foods come ready to eat. These include a variety of breads, pastas and cereals.
Examples of whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
- Wild rice
It’s not always easy to tell what kind of grains a product has, especially bread. For instance, a brown bread isn’t necessarily whole wheat — the colour may come from added colouring. If you’re not sure something has whole grains, check the product label or the Nutrition Facts panel. Look for the word “whole” on the package, and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list.