A recent study showed that individuals who consumed more than 59 grams (about two ounces) of whole grains daily were less likely to develop pre-diabetes compared to those who ate less than 30 grams of whole grains in a day.

"This is of great importance because pre-diabetes is increasing," said lead study author Tina Wirstrom of Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden in Reuters Health.

It's believed that 1 in 4 Americans above age 20 has pre-diabetes, a condition that causes elevated blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association.

While earlier studies concluded that a diet rich in whole grains could decrease the risk of diabetes, this study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, linked high consumption of whole grains with a decreased risk of pre-diabetes.

Currently, the typical consumer gets about 15 grams of whole grains a day, and fewer than 3 percent of Americans consume the recommended 48 grams of whole grains per day.

It's important to eat whole grains instead of refined wheat (i.e., white flour) even if you don't have diabetes. "Whole grain foods have more vitamins and minerals than processed foods," says Marie Frazzitta, DNP, FNP-c, MBA, of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. "They are associated with a lower risk of cancer and obesity."

Here are five easy ways to up your consumption of whole grains:

  1. Become a label reader, says Kwai Lam, RD, of Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "A lot of pre-packaged products may be labeled whole grain, but are not really whole grain," she says. "Look at the nutrition label and ingredient list. The first ingredient should be whole wheat or whole oats, not just wheat or oats.
  2. When you read the label on a loaf of bread, say, or a cereal box, check the food's fiber content. "Make sure it has two or three grams of fiber per serving," Lam recommends. That's a clue it has whole grains.
  3. Don't get overly concerned with soluble vs. insoluble fiber—both forms of fiber are important, says Lam. "If it is a whole grain product it will have both."
  4. Don't limit yourself to whole wheat. Try barley, quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat, too, Lam says. Popcorn is also a whole grain. "But don't add salt or butter," Lam cautions.
  5. If you bake, use whole wheat flour in place of white flour, says Amy Grayson-Hyman, MS, RD, CDE, of the North Shore/LIJ Health System in New York. Try cutting back on white flour gradually while increasing the whole wheat.

Marie Frazzitta, DNP, FNP-c, MBA, reviewed this article.




Stokes, Trevor. "Whole grains linked to lower prediabetes risk." 20 December 2012. Reuters.