This article is part of a series by the Ismaili Nutrition Centre that examines evidence-based studies published in scientific journals, and distills what they mean to our readers.
Whole grains are a great source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and can help keep you feeling full. Researchers at Tufts and Harvard Universities studied 2 834 people aged 32 – 83, to see if eating whole grains (that have not been refined) are better for us. They published their results in September 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nutrition.
Those people, who ate three whole grain servings per day, such as whole-wheat bread and wild rice, had an average of 12 per cent less fat beneath their skin and 17 per cent less fat around their organs compared to those who ate very few whole grain foods. People who ate more refined grains, such as pasta and white rice, had more fat both underneath the skin and around their organs.
What this means for you
The process of “refining”, removes some of the healthiest parts of the grain (the bran and the germ). Without these parts the grains have only half the protein and less than half the fibre of their whole grain counterparts. Whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats/oatmeal, whole rye, whole grain corn, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, triticale, barley, bulgur (cracked wheat), and quinoa.
Multigrain and 100 per cent wheat products are not always "whole grain", and those labelled “whole grain” are not always high in fibre. Check the package labels to find higher fibre products. Try eating more whole grain chapattis or roti and seeded breads more often.
For more information on whole grains, see Make the whole grain a part of your healthy lifestyle, or the Harvard School of Public Health Website.