Whole Grains Cut Cholesterol

Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) just published a study showing that healthy middle-age adults lowered total cholesterol by 4.3% and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 4.9%, by eating whole grains instead of refined grains. The crossover study randomly assigned the 15 subjects to consume either refined or whole grains, in two equal-calorie diets. After three weeks, both groups took a “washout” break for two weeks, then switched diets. Although researchers reported no changes in blood or fat metabolism, hormones associated with insulin levels, compounds linked to immune response, magnesium levels, or CRP (a marker of inflation) with either diet, the subjects’ fasting cholesterol levels definitely improved on the whole grain diet.
Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease, online June 9, 2009. DOI:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.03.025

Oat Beta Glucans Improve Immune System Defenses

Italian researchers reviewed existing research about the positive effects of beta glucans on human health. They found that, in addition to reducing cholesterol and blunting glycemic and insulin response,  beta glucans boost defenses of the immune system agains bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Minerva Medica, June 2009; 100(3):237-45

Kañiwa's Healthy Components

Researchers in Peru studied kañiwa, a native Andean pseudo-cereal that is a cousin of quinoa, to determine its potential to contribute to health. They found that kañiwa is rich in total dietary fiber and lignins, with high antioxidant activity. Moreover, they found that kañiwa had good functional properties, making it attractive for food processing.
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, June 2009; 64(2):94-101. (Repo-Carrasco-Valencia et al.)

Cornbread ranks high as whole grain source

Children and youth with type 1 diabetes must be especially careful to eat well, but, like other children, have strong likes and dislikes. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School worked with 128 young people, ages 7 to 17, at a diabetes camp, to gauge acceptability of a range of whole grains and legumes. Whole grain cornbread was the favorite (85% tried it and liked it, with another 11% willing to try it) followed by whole wheat bread (72% tried/liked and 3% more were willing to try). Those living in an urban setting or frequently consuming fast food were less willing to try whole grain foods.
Diabetes Education. May-June 2009; 35(3): 422-7. Epub Mar 16, 2009.

Whole Grain Cereal for Muscle Recovery

Athletes often choose sports drinks to aid with muscle recovery after endurance exercise. A recent study by Lynne Kammer and her team at the University of Texas compared the effects of ingesting a popular carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink to those from eating whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, and concluded that the whole grain cereal and milk choice was equal to the sports drink in initiating post-exercise muscle recovery.
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, May 2009; 6:11. DOI:10.1186/1550-2783-6-11

Insulin Response better with Barley Beta-Glucan

In a crossover study involving 17 obese women at increased risk for insulin resistance, USDA scientists studied the effects of 5 different breakfast cereal test meals on subjects’ insulin response. They found that consumption of 10g of barley beta-glucan significantly reduced insulin response.
European Journal of Nutrition, April 2009; 48(3):170-5. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

Buckwheat Starch is A Good Energy Source

In a study found via the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), researchers at the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences explored the digestibility of starch derived from oats, wheat, buckwheat, and sweet potatoes. The goal of this study was to determine which of the four starch sources might prove useful in high-energy diets. Pigs were fed diets containing vitamins, minerals, and starch from one of the four sources, and after 15 days, it was determined that buckwheat, along with oats and wheat, provided a better source of dietary energy than sweet potatoes.
China’s Research of Agricultural Modernization Journal, April 2009

Barley Lowers Serum Lipids

University of Connecticut researchers reviewed 8 studies evaluating the lipid-reducing effects of barley. They found that eating barley significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides, but did not appear to significantly alter HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Annals of Family Medicine, March-April 2009; 7(2):157-63

Sorghum May Inhibit Cancer Tumor Growth

Compounds in sorghum called 3-Deoxyanthoxyanins (3-DXA) are present in darker-colored sorgums, and to a lesser extent in white sorghum. Scientists at the University of Missouri tested extracts of black, red, and white sorghums and found that all three extracts had strong antiproliferative activity against human colon cancer cells.
Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1797-804

Whole Grains Lower Risk of Colon Cancer

Researchers in Brazil conducted a meta-analysis of 11 cohort studies including 1,719,590 participants, who were followed from 6 to 16 years. Their overall conclusion was that “consumption of whole grains was inversely associated with the risk of developing colorectal cancer.”
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, March 2009; 21:1-13

Oats Help Cut the Use of Laxatives

Laxative use, especially among the elderly in nursing homes, can lead to malnutrition and unwanted weight loss. Viennese researchers studied 30 frail nursing-home residents in a controlled, blind, intervention trial where 15 patients received 7-8g of oat bran per day. At the end of 6 weeks, 59% of the oat group had discontinued laxative use while maintaining body weight; the control group showed an 8% increase in laxative use and a decrease in body weight.
?Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, February 2009; 13(2):136-9

Finger Millet (Ragi) Tops in Antioxidant Activity Among Common Indian Foods

The National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, India, carried out a study of the total phenolic content and antioxidant activity of various pulses, legumes and cereals, including millets. Finger millet and Rajmah (a type of bean) were highest in antioxidant activity, while finger millet and black gram dhal (a type of lentil) had the highest total phenolic content.
Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. February 2009; 46(1):112-5.