Whole Grain Advantage: Eating more can reduce diabetes risk

The number of people with Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise in North America and an estimated 24% of adults have the metabolic syndrome that often precedes Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. New research from Tufts University shows that people who eat three or more servings per day of whole-grain foods, particularly fiber-rich cereals, may be less apt to develop the metabolic syndrome.

“Higher consumption of whole-grain foods is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes” said Nicola M. McKeown, PhD, scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

McKeown, the study’s lead author, noted that consumers have to be careful when identifying whole grain products. “Pay attention to the ingredients, not the labels. Look for breads with ingredients such as whole wheat, whole rye, whole oats or graham flour rather than breads made with refined wheat flour.”

The study is based on data from more than 2,800 subjects in the Framingham Study. The metabolic syndrome is a clustering of risk factors that include abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia (abnormal blood lipids), high blood pressure and a decreased ability for the body to produce enough insulin.

“There are substantial health benefits to adding just three servings of whole grains a day, and it is not that difficult to do – just substitute your refined grains with comparable whole grain foods” said McKeown. “For example, substitute white rice with brown rice, white bread with whole wheat bread, and choose a whole-grain breakfast cereal.”

Tufts University, Mar 1, 2004