What do Amaranth, Millet, Rye, and Kamut have in common? They are all types of whole grains, the same as whole wheat, brown or wild rice, and even popcorn. The US Dietary Guidelines and the Clinical Guidelines for Diabetes Care , both point out the need to increase your intake of whole grains with the goal of reaching a level of 48 grams per is recommended that we make at least ½ your grains whole grain. But what exactly are whole grains and how did they come to set the level at 48 grams? Are they different from dietary fiber? How many types of whole grains are there and do they all provide the same nutrients?

What are Whole Grains and Why Should We Eat Them?

There are more than 20 varieties of whole grains that are consumed worldwide. Whole grains include plant grains whether whole, broken, or milled, which contains all segments or layers of the entire grain kernel: the bran, the germ, the aleurone, and the endosperm. The aleurone, located right next to the bran layer, is the most metabolically active part of the grain which aids in cell growth of new grain plants if cultivated and is rich in nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. Dietary fiber refers primarily to the bran layer of the grain, although soluble fiber can be found in other parts as well. In 2013, to look at the impact of whole grain consumption on the progression of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), and high blood pressure (HBP), the international research team of Lillioja, Neal, Tapsell, and Jacobs examined eleven prospective United States interventions addressing chronic health conditions and correlated the rates of disease with the level of intake of whole grains (g/day). Striking effects of whole grain intake were seen in a variety of studies:

•Consuming 20 g/day more in whole grain resulted in a 26% drop in CHD incidence (95% CI 19–33%), and a 30 g/day more in whole grain consumption showed to a 36% drop in CHD incidence (95% CI 27–45%);

•A 40 g increase in whole grain consumption dropped the incidence of HBP by 5.4 cases/1,000 person person-years (95% CI 3.8–6.9), a 20% (95% CI 14–26%) drop in incidence of HBP;

•Sun et al. estimated that exchanging 50 g per day of cooked white rice with 50 g of whole grains (dry weight) may reduce the risk of type 2 by over 35%;

•In the Physicians’ Health Study, consuming whole grain breakfast cereal at least once per day daily, could result in almost a 50% reduction in type 2 incidence and a 20% reduction in HBP;

•For a type 2 incidence of 3.87 (the mean incidence seen in five studies), this equates to a 30% reduction in diabetes incidence with a 30 g/day increase in whole grain consumed (95% confidence interval (CI) 22–39%), and a 40% drop (95% CI 29–52%) for a 40 g daily increase; and

•Elevating whole grain intake to 40 g, and ideally 50 g daily (about a bowl of whole grain breakfast cereal daily) could have major public health benefits.

•Friday, September 04, 2015

•By Yvonne D. Greer MPH, RD, CD

13 Replies

  • very informative!

  • Whole grain breakfast cereal to diabetics?

    Even normal persons in the US are moving away from Cereals for breakfast and that's why companies like Kelloggs and General Mills are losing cereals business in national market. Struggling for over two years now. Not just US, their cereals business is struggling in all developed economies. That's why they are moving to greener pastures like Africa and India where there's an easy market for a few years more, because of ignorance. At least, that's what their balance sheet says -- their cereal business is one the decline in domestic (US) and developed economies.

    Whole or non-whole just makes a difference of 5% max. Many "popular" whole grains spike faster than even table sugar.

  • It is correct to switch to whole grain cereals in place of flours and other milled grains.We have very good examples of ragi,bajra and jowar.They are far healthier than polished rice,maida and ordinary atta.When we eat whole grain we get all the essential nutrients like vitamins,minerals and proteins.

  • can you help regarding the whole grain rice as discussed below.?

  • Rice and wheat are most important staples for us.Rice carries less proteins than wheat but it's quality is much better.Problem with protein in rice is that it is found on the outer layer of the grain and it gets removed when it is polished.In fact when rice is polished,the germ which carries lots of minerals and vitamins is also lost.So, par boiled rice,steamed rice or at least less polished rice has to be preferred.Even in wheat,lots of valuable nutrients are lost when flour is made,because some ingredients are removed while grinding.That is why whole wheat wheat flour is preferred.But these issues are not faced with millets like ragi,bajra ,jowar etc. because the outer skin can never removed in these grains.Per force,you have to consume the whole grain with all the fiber and valuable nutrients.Another example is maize.Pop corn is eaten as a whole grain where as when flour is made,they take out corn oil and certain other components to male syrup,adhesives etc.

    My knowledge is limited in this area and hope I have not made any blunders.

  • if paddy is handpound does it make it better than polishing?

  • hand pounding also will remove the germ i think.

    it may be impossible in case of paddy to get whole grain.

    but if the germ can be recaptured and added it will be a whole grain i suppose.

  • Definitely.Hand pounding does not remove any valuable nutrients,whereas machine shelling removes is improving like steamed rice etc.

  • red rice is kerala speciality .it is supposed to be whole grain

  • Gluten is the protein component found in grass-family grains, particularly, in all wheat varieties, rye, and barley. Kamut, Bulgur, Spelt, Emmer, Faro, Einkorn, Cracked Wheat, and Wheat berries are also varieties of wheat containing gluten. Gluten is what gives noodles their rubbery flexibility and bread batter its elastic, gummy texture, which helps it to raise and hold its shape. However, there are plenty of other whole grains that do not contain gluten. Gluten-free grains include: Amaranth, Brown Rice, Corn, including corn meal and popcorn, Millet, Oats, including oatmeal, Quinoa, Sorghum (also called milo), Teff, Triticale, and Wild Rice.

  • lot of information.thanks and congrats.

    but whole grain rice i haven't seen in market here in kerala.

  • ndiacratus

    what about brown rice and red rice?are they not whole grain rice?

  • dear raoji,

    the term whole grain is applicable[ strictly ]

    when the shell of the paddy is removed,

    that means

    it should contain the brown cover[ bran], the germ and the endosperm which is the starch storage.

    brown rice also i havnt seen. only partially brown i see in the market.

    my knowledge is poor in this.

    the rice anatomy is such that ,i thought,

    the germ, embriyo, is lost with the shell?

    you may read

    elsewhere please

You may also like...