Whole grain diets lower chronic disease risk, aid weight loss:study

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Washington, Feb 12 (UNI) Diets with high amounts of whole grains may help achieve significant weight loss, and also reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, study shows.

''Consumption of whole grains has been associated with a lower body weight and lower blood pressure,'' said co-author Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State in University Park, which conducted the reserach along with the College of Medicine.

''We thought that incorporating whole grains into a heart-healthy weight loss diet may provide the same benefits to people at risk from chronic diseases,'' Science Daily quoted him as saying.

The researchers recruited 50 obese adults, 25 male and 25 female, between ages 20 to 65 and known to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

They were randomly assigned to either a group that received instructions to have all of their grain servings from whole grains or all of their grain servings from refined grains.

''We asked participants in the whole grain group to focus on foods that had whole grains as the first ingredient,'' said lead author Heather Katcher, a Penn State PhD recipient and currently a dietetic intern at Tulane University.

Over the 12-week study period, all participants received the same dietary advice on weight loss, and encouragement to participate in moderate physical activity. They were also asked to consume five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy products, and two servings of lean meat, fish or poultry.

Results from the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that waist circumference and body weight decreased significantly in both groups, between 8-11 pounds on average, but weight loss in the abdominal region was significantly greater in the whole grain group.

According to Dr Katcher, the whole grain group experienced a 38 per cent decrease in C-reactive protein levels in their blood. A high level of this inflammatory marker is thought to place patients at a higher risk for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, he said.

Participants in the whole grain group also showed an increased intake of fiber and magnesium, both of which may prevent or delay the potential onset of diabetes, the study said.

Researchers said the study is timely as it addresses the wide choice of whole grains in the market.

''There are a lot of foods around that claim they contain whole grain but are not really major sources of whole grain,'' informed Prof Kris-Etherton.

She recommended whole grain foods where at least 51 per cent of the grain came from whole grain. These include oatmeal, whole grain cereal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and snacks such as granola bars, popcorn and whole-wheat crackers.

''This is the first clinical study to prove that a diet rich in whole grains can lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases,'' she added.

UNI XC RJ HS1720

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