Whole Grains 101

whole grains 101

Health Studies on Whole Grains

Whole grain bread is healthy.

Every day, more and more studies show the benefits of whole grains. We regularly post new studies here, where you can browse through them at random. Or, you can use our filters to home in on a specific question, such as "Does barley reduce the risk of diabetes?" or "What's the research about whole grains and hypertension?"

Filter the studies below by selecting a grain and/or a disease/condition, then click apply.


WIC Package Improves Retail Choices

In 2009, the foods subsidized under the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program changed to include fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, among other changes. Researchers in New Orleans visited small stores in that city when the change was introduced, and then a year later. They found that just 3.7% of stores participating in the WIC program carried whole wheat bread or brown rice in 2009, while 70.4% offered whole wheat bread a year later and 92.6% offered brown rice. Most of this change can be attributed to the impact of the WIC program, as only 1.5% of non-WIC participating small stores carried whole wheat bread in 2010, and only 12.1% carried brown rice. These changes in availability can make healthier choices available not just to people in the WIC program, but to everyone in that neighborhood.
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2014 May-Jun;46(3 Suppl);S38-44. (Rose et al.)

Brown Rice Reduces Diabetes Risk

At the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in India, researchers carried out a randomized crossover trial in which they studied the effects of three diets on fifteen overweight Asian Indians. Test meals were identical for the three groups except for the type of rice (brown or white) and the addition of legumes. Fasting serum insulin was measured at the beginning and end of each 5-day test period, during which the subjects underwent continuous glucose monitoring. The scientists found that IAUC (incremental area under the curve, a measure of blood sugar management) was 19.8% lower with brown rice and 22.9% lower with brown rice and legumes, as compared to white rice. Fasting insulin was also markedly lower in the two brown rice phases of the study.
Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics. 2014 May; 16(5);317-25. (Mohan et al.)

Sorghum Reduces Glucose, Insulin Response

At the University of Arkansas, researchers conducted a small randomized crossover trial with 10 healthy men, to compare the impact on blood sugar of eating two different whole grain muffins: a whole sorghum muffin and a whole wheat muffin, each with 50g of total starch. Glucose response averaged 35% lower after the sorghum muffin, leading researchers to suggest that whole grain sorghum could be a good ingredient choice for managing glucose and insulin levels.
Food and Function. 2014 May;5(5):894-9. (Poquette et al.)

Brown Rice Lowers Inflammation, Health Markers

Scientists at Isfahan University in Iran carried out a randomized crossover study of 40 overweight or obese women, which consisted of two 6-week interventions separated by a 2-week washout period. During the interventions, women were asked to consumer either 150g or brown rice or the same amount of white rice daily, as part of a prescribed weight-loss diet including 50-60% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein and ≤30% fat. Eating brown rice had beneficial impact on both inflammation and cardiovascular risk markers, including decreases in weight, waist and hip circumference, BMI, diastolic blood pressure and hs-CRP.
International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014 Apr;5(4):478-88. (Kazemzadeh et al.)

Rye Crispbread Satisfies Appetite Better

Wondering what to have for breakfast? Researchers in Sweden, where rye has been the go-to grain for centuries, set out to compare two breakfast bread choices: whole grain rye crisp bread and (refined) white wheat bread. Although subjects ate similar amounts of each food for breakfast, they reported higher fullness, lower hunger, and less desire to eat after consuming the rye crisp than after eating the white bread. When study participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted at lunch later that day, those who ate rye crisp for breakfast ate about 8% fewer calories at lunch.
Nutrition Journal. 2014 Mar 25;13(1):26. (Forsberg et al.)

Darker Rice Richer in Antioxidants

Scientists in Portugal studied different varieties of rice to determine which components might be linked to lower incidence of some chronic diseases in rice-consuming regions of the world. After building a database compiling information from 316 papers, they determined that black rice had the highest level of antioxidants, followed in descending order by purple, red and brown rice. Based on their findings, they advised that “rice should be preferentially consumed in the form of bran or as whole grain.” They also found, however, that many other cereal grains had higher levels of most antioxidants than rice.
Food Science & Nutrition. 2014 Mar;2(2):75-104.  (Goufo et al.)

Whole Grain, Fiber Consumption are Related

Researchers at General Mills teamed up with the University of Minnesota to explore the relationship between whole grain consumption and intake of total dietary fiber. Using NHANES data from 2009-10, they determined that people who eat more whole grain do indeed have higher dietary fiber intake; people who eat fewer whole grains do not make up their fiber shortfall from other sources. Adults obtained most of their whole grains from breads (27%), RTE cereals (20%) and oatmeal (21%), while the breakdown for children and adolescents was breads (24%), RTE cereals (25%) and oatmeal (12%).
Nutrition Research. 2014 Mar;34)3):226-34. (Reicks et al.)

Cholesterol Falls Slightly with Whole Grains

In a small study in Rome, 13 postmenopausal women took part in a randomized double-blind crossover trial. For two 4-week periods, they ate whole grain breakfast cereals, biscuits or pasta high in lignans or refined grain foods, separated by a two-week washout period. A modest decrease in cholesterol was observed during the whole grain phase of the study.
International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition. 2014 Mar 10. [epub ahead of print] (Durazzo et al.)

Avoiding Preterm Delivery

66,000 pregnant Norwegian women answered food frequency questionnaires and were subsequently classified into three dietary pattern groups: “prudent” (vegetables, fruits, oils, water as beverage, whole grain cereals, fiber-rich bread), “Western” (salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts, processed meat products) and “traditional” (potatoes, fish). They found that women following a “prudent” or “traditional” diet were at a lower risk of preterm delivery.
BMJ. 2014 Mar 4;348:g1446. (Englund-Ögge et al.)

Whole Grain Bread Not Associated with Central Obesity

Norwegian researchers reviewed data from more than 50,000 adults to investigate possible associations between central obesity and diet. After adjusting for confounding variables, they found that people with central obesity ate less bread, especially whole grain bread. They also had lower intake of fruits, berries, vegetables, pasta and rice – and higher intake of sausages, hamburgers and boiled potatoes. Researchers especially cited decreased consumption of whole grain bread and increased consumption of sugar-free drinks as being of special clinical significance.
Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014 Feb 12:1-10 (Mostad et al.)

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