Oat flakes, seeds and bran in spoons

    Eating enough whole grains can reduce diabetes risk by a third

    5 September 2018

    Whole grain consumption can prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. The comprehensive study is a strong confirmation of previous research findings on the importance of whole grains for prevention of type 2 diabetes.

    The ability to use wholegrains for prevention of type 2 diabetes – previously sometimes known as adult-onset diabetes – has been known for a long time. But the role of different wholegrain sources has not been investigated. It has also been unclear how much wholegrain is needed to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

    The study was conducted in Denmark, where there is a big variation in wholegrain-intake. The study showed 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.

    Rikard Landberg, the study’s senior researcher, said: ‘Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the USA, where people mainly get their wholegrain from wheat. 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.’

    What is more important is how much wholegrain eaten per day. The participants were divided into 4 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 percent lower for men, and 22 percent lower for women, than in the group with the lowest wholegrain intake.

    Landberg said: ‘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 4 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.’

    This makes whole grains one of the most effective dietary ways to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking coffee, and avoiding red meat, are other factors that can similarly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.