Rye Reduces Body Weight Compared to Wheat

In this study conducted at Lund University in Sweden, mice were fed whole grain diets based on either wheat or rye, for 22 weeks. Body weight, glucose tolerance, and several other parameters were measured during the study. The researchers concluded that whole grain rye “evokes a different metabolic profile compared with whole grain wheat.” Specifically, mice consuming the whole grain rye had reduced body weight, slightly improved insulin sensitivity, and lower total cholesterol.
Nutrition. February 2010; 26(2): 230-9. Epub 2009 Jul 31.

Barley Controls Blood Sugar Better

Dutch researchers used a crossover study with 10 healthy men to compare the effects of cooked barley kernels and refined wheat bread on blood sugar control. The men ate one or the other of these grains at dinner, then were given a high glycemic index breakfast (50g of glucose) the next morning for breakfast. When they had eaten the barley dinner, the men had 30% better insulin sensitivity the next morning after breakfast.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2010; 91(1):90-7. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Oats May Reduce Asthma Risk in Children

While there is widespread belief that introducing solid foods to children too early may cause later health problems, a Finnish prospective study of 1293 children found that those introduced earlier to oats were in fact less likely to develop persistent asthma.
British Journal of Nutrition, January 2010; 103(2):266-73

Oats May Boost Nutrition Profile of Gluten-free Diets

Two recent studies out of Scandinavia show that adding oats to a gluten-free diet may enhance the nutritional values of the diets, particularly for vitamins and minerals, as well as increasing antioxidant levels.  Researchers asked 13 men and 18 women with Celiac disease to follow a gluten-free diet with the addition of kilned (stabilized) or unkilned oats.  After six months, the addition of stabilized oats resulted in an increased intake of vitamin B1 and magnesium, while the unkilned oats increased intakes of magnesium and zinc.  In the second study from Scandinavia, the addition of gluten-free oats allowed people on gluten-free diets to achieve their recommended daily intakes of fiber, as well as increasing levels of a particular antioxidant called bilirubin, which helps the body eliminate free radicals as well as protect the brain from oxidative damage.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2010; 64:62-67, DOI:10.1038/ejcn.2009.113 and
The European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, December 2009; e315-e320

Rye Bread Replaces Laxatives

In a recent Finnish study, rye bread proved more effective than laxatives in reducing mild constipation and improving colonic metabolism, without causing adverse gastrointestinal effects. Researchers at the University of Helsinki randomly assigned 51 constipated adults to five groups that consumed: rye bread, cultured buttermilk, rye bread + buttermilk, white wheat bread, and laxatives (as usual for participant). The rye bread proved most effective, cutting transit time 41% compared to laxatives.
Journal of Nutrition, January 2010; epub ahead of print

Indian Diabetics Turn to Ragi (Finger Millet) and other Millets

Diabetes is rising rapidly in India, as it is in many nations. Researchers at Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College in Tamaka, Kola, India decided to study the prevalence and awareness of diabetes in rural areas, in order to inform health policy. While there was widespread lack of awareness of the longterm effects of diabetes and diabetic care, common perception favored consumption of ragi, millet and whole wheat chapatis instead of rice, sweets and fruit.
International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries. January 2010; 30(1):18-21.

High-Carb: Better Moods than Low Carb

Researchers in Australia studying 106 overweight and obese adults put 55 of them on a very low-carb, high-fat diet, and 51 on a very low-fat, high-carb diet. After a year, weight loss in both groups was about the same (13.7 kg or 30.2 lbs). But, while both groups reported improved mood after the first 8 weeks, after that only the higher-carb group maintained their good mood; the low-carb group was more angry, depressed, and confused after a year on the Atkins-like diet. Researchers suggested a link to better serotonin synthesis with the higher-carb diet, or perhaps to “withdrawal symptoms” in Western-diet environment replete with breads and cereals.
Archives of Internal Medicine, November 2009; 169(20):1873-1880

Gluten Free Diet Decreases Good Gut Bacteria

Although most whole grains are naturally gluten free, many gluten free diets are devoid of these prebiotic, nutrient powerhouses. In an effort to see how eliminating gluten effects the gut microbiome, Spanish researchers assigned ten healthy adults (average age 30) to a gluten free diet for one month, and measured the changes in their gut microbiome. In just one month of eliminating gluten, the good bacteria in their gut significantly decreased, and some harmful bacteria (like E. Coli) increased, although not significantly. This research suggests that those on a medically prescribed gluten free diet should take care to consume foods that are associated with good gut bacteria, such as gluten-free whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Oct;102(8):1154-60. (De Palma et al.)

Oats Increase Appetite-Control Hormones

Australian researchers studied fourteen people who ate a control meal and three different cereals with different levels of oat beta glucan. They then collected blood samples for four hours after each meal, and found a significant dose response between higher levels of oat beta glucan and higher levels of Peptide Y-Y, a hormone associated with appetite control.
Nutrition Research, October 2009; 29(10):705-9

Quinoa’s Excellent Nutritional and Functional Properties

Lillian Abugoch James of the University of Chile reported on the composition, chemistry, nutritional and functional properties of quinoa. She cited the pseudocereal’s “remarkable nutritional qualities” including its high protein content (15%), “great amino acid balance,” and “notable Vitamin E content.” Beyond its nutritional profile, Abugoch recommends quinoa to food manufacturers because of its useful functional properties, such as viscosity and freeze stability.
Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, October 2009; 58:1-31

Lower Abdominal Fat with Higher Whole Grain Intake

Nicola McKeown and a team of Tufts researchers studied 434 older (age 60 to 80) adults, comparing their diet to their body fat and abdominal fat composition. No significant association was found between body composition and intake of total fiber or vegetable and fruit fiber. Whole grain intake and cereal fiber intake, however, correlated strongly with lower BMI, lower total percent body fat and lower abdominal (“trunk fat”) mass in older adults.
Journal of Nutrition, October 2009; 139(10);1950-1955. DOI:10.3945/jn.108.103762

Rye Lowers Insulin Response, Improves Blood Glucose Profile

In the fight against diabetes and obesity, foods that produce a low insulin response and suppress hunger can be extremely useful. Scientists at Lund University in Sweden examined the effects on 12 healthy subjects of breakfasts made from different rye flours (endosperm, whole grain rye, or rye bran) produced with different methods (baking, simulated sour-dough baking, and boiling). This cross-over study showed that the endosperm rye bread and the whole grain rye bread (especially the “sourdough” one with lactic acid) best controlled blood sugar and regulated appetite.
Nutrition Journal. September 25, 2009; 8:42