Monday, January 14, 2019

Is whole wheat any better for you than refined wheat?

The Study
Whole grains are really important to include in your diet. They are high in fiber, high in micronutrients and have an easier impact on your blood sugar than their refined counterparts. However, are they all equally beneficial? This study is a meta-analysis that compared the blood glucose response of whole wheat vs. refined wheat and whole grain rice vs. refined white rice. Twenty randomized trials were included in this investigation. Whole grain rice resulted in a significantly lower post-prandial blood sugar when compared to white rice. Unexpectedly, whole wheat did not significantly lower blood sugar in subjects when compared to refined wheat.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018;108:759-74.

Take Home Message
I have recommended whole grains in place of refined grains to my clients since day one for many reasons. In the research literature, a high consumption of whole grains has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and total mortality. For those looking to lose weight, replacing refined grains with whole grains reduces the swings in blood sugar and insulin that tend to increase hunger and promote fat storage. 

However, I noticed that when my clients ate whole wheat, they were still just as hungry as if they were eating refined wheat. For this reason, I have always had my clients limit whole wheat and focus on other whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and old fashioned oats. This study shows that whole wheat raises blood sugar in a similar fashion to refined wheat. This is the first time I have seen this in the literature but it makes total sense to me. My initial recommendations are confirmed, limit whole wheat and instead focus on brown rice, quinoa and old fashioned oats for your all-important sources of whole grains.

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