Whole grains

Eating Whole Grains Linked with Slower Cognitive Decline

Good nutrition can help support brain health and healthy aging, and it’s increasingly clear that whole grains are an important part of the equation. In a study of 3,326 older adults (average age 75), those eating three or more servings of whole grains per day had a slower rate of decline in global cognition, perceptual speed, and episodic memory compared to those who ate fewer than one serving per day. These results were statistically significant for the group as a whole and for African American participants (who made up 60% of the study population), but did not quite reach statistical significance for white participants (who made up a smaller proportion of the study population).
Neurology. 2023 Nov 22:10.1212/WNL.0000000000207938. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207938. (Liu X et al.)

Brain Health / Cognitive Function
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Whole Grains Linked with Lower Risk of Weight Gain

Carbohydrate foods from different sources have different impacts on the body, meaning that it is important to choose quality carbohydrates like whole grains. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating patterns and weight changes of 136,432 adults for more than 2 decades. Eating more whole grains, fruit, and non starchy vegetables was linked with a lower risk of weight gain, while eating more refined grains and starchy vegetables (peas, corn, potatoes) was linked with a higher risk of weight gain.
BMJ. 2023 Sep 27:382:e073939. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2022-073939. (Wan Y et al.)

Weight Control / BMI
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Eating More Whole Grains Linked with Better Mental Health

Whole grain’s protective effect against heart disease and diabetes is well-documented, and because these chronic conditions also relate to risk of brain health and mental health, researchers wanted to examine this relationship directly. In this study, scientists analyzed 23 studies on whole grain intake and risk of cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders and evaluated the strength of the evidence. They found that people who eat more whole grains are more likely to have better mood, depression, and anxiety scores. The evidence on whole grains and cognition was inconclusive, meaning that more research is needed.
Adv Nutr. 2023 Apr 19;S2161-8313(23)00288-0. doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2023.04.003. (Ross AB et al.)

Brain Health / Cognitive Function
Depression / Mood Control
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

More Than 1/4 Global Cases of Type 2 Diabetes Attributed to Low Whole Grain Intake

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases around the world, impacting millions of people. In this study, researchers developed risk-assessment models to estimate how much various dietary habits contribute to type 2 diabetes risk in 184 countries around the world. The largest burden (26.1%) of type 2 diabetes was attributed to low whole grain intake. Other factors contributing to high type 2 diabetes burden included high intake of refined rice and wheat (24.6%) and high intake of processed meat (20.3%).
Nat Med. 2023 Apr;29(4):982-995. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02278-8. Epub 2023 Apr 17. (O’Hearn M et al.)

Diabetes / Insulin / Glucose
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Eating Whole Grains Linked with 28-36% Lower Risk of Dementia

Brain-healthy diets include a variety of healthy ingredients, and researchers wonder if whole grains specifically might be related to dementia risk. In a study of 2,958 adults in the U.S., those eating the most whole grains were 28% less likely to develop all-cause dementia and were 36% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia over the 12-year study period. The researchers note that more research is needed to better understand this relationship.
J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2023;10(1):133-136. doi: 10.14283/jpad.2022.91. (J Wang et al.)

Alzheimer's Disease
Brain Health / Cognitive Function
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Dietitians and Nutrition Students Are Knowledgeable About Whole Grains, Can Play Role in Encouraging Greater Whole Grain Intake Among Consumers

In this study, researchers surveyed 348 registered dietitians and 124 nutrition students about whole grain foods. Both groups had high whole grain knowledge and were able to correctly identify whole grain foods. The authors note that exposure to whole grain foods plays a critical role in behavior change, and that “the use of prominent and clear whole-grain labeling should be increased, such as the Whole Grain Stamp.”
Nutrition Today2022 July/Aug;57(4):200-208. (Hicks-Roof K et al.) doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000550

Diet Quality / Nutrients
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Increasing Whole Grains, Limiting Beef in School Lunches Can Reduce Environmental Impact

Meals served in the National School Lunch Program are developed with nutrition, cost, and youth preferences in mind, with little room or direction to consider environmental impact. Using data from over 2.2 million real-world lunches, researchers at Tufts quantified the environmental footprint of each lunch served to see if they could determine patterns and form recommendations for more sustainable lunches. They found that low impact school lunches had “20% more whole grains, nearly 20 times more nuts and seeds, and four times less animal protein than high impact lunches.” As a result, the authors concluded that “increasing whole grain requirements and providing serving size or frequency limits for beef” are the two most effective recommendations for reducing the environmental impacts of the National School Lunch program. 
Nature. 2022 June 23;3(138). doi: 10.1038/s43247-022-00452-3. (Stern AL et al.)

Environmental Health
Diet 
Vegetarian & Vegan Diet
Traditional Diets, General

Eating More Whole Grains is Linked with Substantial Healthcare Cost Savings

Health economics, the practice of quantifying how much money could be saved by taking certain health promotion measures (such as eating more whole grains) is a growing area of research. In this study, researchers analyzed 4 different models for measuring the health savings of eating more whole grains to identify best practices and inform future research. They found that while results varied from one study to the next, each method identified substantial health savings if people were to make more of their grains whole. The authors recommend that future studies consider realistic behavior changes, which may vary from one country to the next.
Journal of Cereal Science. 2022 May. doi: 10.1016/j.jcs.2022.103455 (Miller KB et al.)​

Financial Health
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Whole Grain Public-Private Partnerships Can Increase Whole Grain Intake

Public-private partnerships include collaborations between governments, industry, and/or nonprofits to work towards a common objective, and can be a great strategy to make progress on population-wide goals, such as improving whole grain intake. In this study, researchers examined 3 of the most well-known whole grain public-private partnerships (the Oldways Whole Grains Council in the US, the Danish Whole Grain Partnership, and the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council in Australia) to identify best practices for increasing whole grain intake globally. The study concludes that to successfully improve whole grain intakes in the long-term, public-private partnerships should address environmental sustainability, be incorporated into front-of-pack labeling schemes, and reach out those who eat the least amount of whole grain.
Journal of Cereal Science. 2022 May. doi: 10.1016/j.jcs.2022.103456 (Sluyter C et al.)

Diet Quality / Nutrients
Taste / Palatability
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

Whole Grain Fiber Linked with Lower Inflammation

Not all fiber is created equal; the fiber from whole grains may offer specific health benefits that can’t be replicated with fruits or vegetables alone. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits of 4,125 older adults (age 65+) with a special focus on their fiber intake, and also monitored the participants for signs of inflammation and heart disease. The study found that “higher intakes of cereal fiber, but not vegetable or fruit fiber, were associated with lower levels of inflammation in older adults.” Further, the results suggested that whole grain fiber may play other roles in its relationship with lower cardiovascular disease risk in addition to its link with lower inflammation.
JAMA Network Open. 2022 Mar 1;5(3):e225012. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.5012. (Shivakoti R et al.)

Diet Quality / Nutrients
Heart / Cardiovascular Disease
Inflammation
Diet 
Traditional Diets, General

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