Eating Whole Grains Could Prevent Type 2 Diabetes up to 34 Percent

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By : Suvarna Sheth

Rikard Landberg, Professor and Head of Division for Food and Nutrition Science, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Credit: Johan Bodell.

A new study finds that eating whole grain can prevent Type 2 diabetes, up to 34 percent in men, and 22 percent in women.

The study, which was conducted in Denmark, showed that it made no difference which type of whole grain product the participants consumed, whether it was rye bread, oatmeal, or muesli, for example. They all offered the same protection against Type 2 diabetes.

What was more important, according to researchers is how much whole grain is consumed in one day.

“Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the U.S., where people mainly get their wholegrain from wheat,” says Rikard Landberg, senior researcher on the study. “We wanted to see if there was a difference between different whole grains,” he explains because they contain different types of dietary fiber and bioactive substances, which have been shown to influence risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

How was the Study Conducted?

The participants were divided into 4 different groups, based on how much wholegrain they reported eating. Those with the highest consumption ate at least 50 grams of whole grain each day. This corresponds to a portion of oatmeal porridge, and one slice of rye bread, for example.

The proportion who developed Type 2 diabetes was lowest in the group which reported the highest wholegrain consumption and increased for each group which had eaten less wholegrain.

The Results

In the group with the highest whole grain intake, the diabetes risk was 34 percent lower for men, and 22 percent lower for women, than in the group with the lowest wholegrain intake.

The study involved 55,000 participants, between the ages of 50 and 65 and spanned over a period of 15 years.

The cohort study was linked with data from Denmark’s national diabetes register, to investigate which participants developed Type 2 diabetes during a 15 year period – which in total was over 7000 people.

“Our results are in line with dietary advice, which recommends switching out foods containing white flour for whole grains,” says Landberg. “You get extra health benefits – white flour has some negative effects on health, while wholegrain has several positive effects, beyond protection against Type 2 diabetes.”

Wholegrains are defined as consisting of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ, and bran. According to researchers, those who avoid all whole grains, in an attempt to follow a low carb diet, lose out on the positive health effects of wholegrain, which come principally from the bran and the germ.

Landberg believes carbohydrates should not be avoided in the diet.

“When it comes to whole grains, the research results are clear: among the many studies which have been made, in varied groups of people around the world, there hasn’t been a single study which has shown negative health effects,” he states.

The study has been published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology