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Benefits of a Whole Grain Diet

Date Published: 17-11-2021

Essential Trading has always prided itself on a good range of whole grain products.  Our best-selling examples include Essential Wholewheat Penne, Brown Basmati, Organic Quinoa and Super Hi-Fibre Cereal.  All are wonderful in taste and follow our healthy eating product range.  A recent study in the USA has linked eating whole grains to smaller increases in waist size, blood pressure, blood sugar.  Of more significance, all three are linked with the increased risk of heart disease.

The study by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University, focused upon middle- to older-aged adults who ate more servings of whole grains, compared to those who ate fewer.  Middle- to older-aged adults who ate at least three servings of whole grains daily had smaller increases in waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels over time compared to those who ate less than one-half serving per day, according to the research.


3100 participants were studied for 18 years.  Those studied were largely white and on average, mid-50s when they study began.  The research team compared changes in five risk factors - waist size, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglyceride, and HDL cholesterol (aka “good” cholesterol) - over four year intervals from reported whole grain intake, ranging from less than a half serving per day to three or more servings per day.  According to dietary guidelines, the recommended amount of whole grains is three or more servings daily.  An example of a serving is one slice of whole-grain bread, a half cup of rolled oats cereal, or a half cup of brown rice.

Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the results showed that for each four-year interval:

Waist size increased by an average of over 1 inch in the low intake participants, versus about ½ inch in the high intake participants.

Even after accounting for changes in waist size, average increases in blood sugar levels and systolic blood pressure were greater in low intake participants compared to high intake participants.

A greater mean decline in triglyceride levels for each four-year period was also recorded.

Nicola McKeown, senior and corresponding author and a scientist on the Nutritional Epidemiology Team at the USDA HNRCA, commented,

"Our findings suggest that eating whole-grain foods as part of a healthy diet delivers health benefits beyond just helping us lose or maintain weight as we age.  In fact, these data suggest that people who eat more whole grains are better able to maintain their blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Managing these risk factors as we age may help to protect against heart disease".

The difference in health benefits between whole and refined grains may develop from the fact that whole grains are less processed than refined grains.  Whole grains have a fibre-rich outer layer and an inner germ layer packed with B vitamins, antioxidants and small amounts of healthy fats.  Milling whole grains removes these nutrient-dense components, leaving only the starch-packed refined grain behind.  The not-so-healthy refined grains came mostly from pasta and white bread, but the pasta choices from Essential include the La Terra range, produced for a longer period at lower temperatures to preserve the nutrients.  The range also includes Spelt Pasta, a whole grain variant high in protein, magnesium and fibre.  Other good contributors to whole-grain intake are whole-wheat breads and ready-to-eat whole-grain breakfast cereals, the latter of which Essential have a lot of experience in producing.  There’s plenty of whole grain choice in the Essential catalogue for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

The average person consumes more than the recommended amount of fine grains, so it's important to think about ways to replace them with whole grains throughout your day.  A bowl of whole-grain cereal instead of a white flour bagel for breakfast could be an example, a product that Essential produce and stock many types.  Small incremental changes in your diet to increase whole grain intake will make a difference over time.