Study reveals how important wholegrains are in the diet for preventing type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on September 10, 2018

Wholegrains are important for preventing type 2 diabetes and it makes no difference what kind of product or cereal is eaten, new research has found.

What is most important is how much wholegrain is eaten each day, according to the study which also provides important clarification in terms of amounts needed to be beneficial.

Whole Grains

(By aboikis/

The study from scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, and researchers from the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre, is seen as a strong confirmation of previous research findings on the importance of whole grains for prevention of type 2 diabetes.

‘Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the USA, where people mainly get their wholegrain from wheat,’ said Rikard Landberg, professor at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, and senior researcher on the study.

‘We wanted to see if there was a difference between different cereals. One might expect there would be, because they contain different types of dietary fibre and bioactive substances, which have been shown to influence risk factors for type 2 diabetes,’ he added.

The study was conducted in Denmark, where there is a big variation in wholegrain intake and found that it made no difference which type of wholegrain product or cereal the participants ate. Ryebread, oatmeal, and muesli, for example, seem to offer the same protection against type 2 diabetes.

The participants were divided into four different groups, based on how much wholegrain they reported eating. Those with the highest consumption ate at least 50 grams of wholegrain each day. This corresponds to a portion of oatmeal porridge and one slice of rye bread, for example.

The proportion who developed type 2 diabetes was lowest in the group which reported the highest wholegrain consumption, and increased for each group which had eaten less wholegrain. In the group with the highest wholegrain intake, the diabetes risk was 34% lower for men, and 22% lower for women, than in the group with the lowest wholegrain intake.

‘It is unusual to be able to investigate such a large range when it comes to how much wholegrain people eat. If you divided American participants into four groups, the group that ate the most wholegrain would be the same level as the group that ate the least wholegrain in Denmark. In Europe, Scandinavia eats the most, Spain and Italy the least,’ Landberg pointed out.

Additionally, he pointed out that the study was uncommonly large, with 55,000 participants, over a long time span of 15 years.

‘Our results are in line with dietary advice, which recommends switching out foods containing white flour for wholegrains. You get extra health benefits. White flour has some negative effects on health, while wholegrain has several positive effects, beyond protection against type 2 diabetes,’ said Landberg.

Wholegrains are defined as consisting of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ, and bran. Those who avoid all cereals, in an attempt to follow a low carb diet, therefore lose out on the positive health effects of wholegrain, which come principally from the bran and the germ. Landberg thinks that cereals, and carbohydrates in general, should not be avoided in diet.

‘Carbohydrates are a very varied group of foodstuffs, including sugar, starch, and fibre. We should discuss these more individually, and not throw them together in one group, because they have totally different effects on our physiology and health,’ he explained.

‘When it comes to wholegrains, the research results are clear, among the many studies which have been made, in varied groups of people around the world, there hasn’t been a single study which has shown negative health effects,’ he concluded.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ivan October 18, 2018 at 8:44 am

Eat healthy, live healthy, and be healthy. The choice is yours and yours only.


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