Whole Grains for Health Gains

Look at any popular magazine these days and you’ll find at least one diet that bashes grains. Whether it’s Paleo, the Military diet, or the “whole 30”, someone, somewhere is out there trying to get you to eat a bun-less sandwich. But what they may not realize is that anti-carb diets are a thing of the past.

Grains are back, and for good reason.

A recent study from Tufts published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects consuming whole grains over refined grains burned more calories and absorbed fewer calories overall. In addition, glucose tolerance was improved in whole grain consumers.1 Other studies have shown lower rates of obesity and cancer in individuals eating a diet containing whole grains.2

Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts and author of instinctdiet.com believes that Americans eat too many refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, pastries, and desserts, which contribute to overweight and obesity.3 Lauri Wright, an assistant professor in community and family health at the University of South Florida notes that whole grains are higher in antioxidants, which contribute to long-term good health.3

Rather than comparing weight changes in subjects, the Tufts study evaluated resting metabolic rate and energy (calorie) content in stool at the end of a 6-week study. Participants were, on average, 50+ years of age with a BMI of 25.6, which is slightly above normal but not overweight. Participants in both groups consumed about 2550 calories per day, but one group had 830 calories in whole grains while the other had 830 calories from refined grains. The study found that the whole grain eaters burned 40 calories more than their refined grain counterparts and lost ~50 calories in stool, resulting in a 92-calorie deficit. If this deficit is carried over for a year, a 5.5 lb weight loss could be achieved. 1 A previous 2011 Harvard study of over 12,000 subjects and whole grains supported these results. 2

Most Americans miss the mark on fiber intake, consuming a mere 15 grams per day. The subjects in the Tufts study that ate whole grains ate about 39 grams of fiber daily versus 21 grams in the refined carbohydrate group. 1 Researchers believe the feeling of fullness in whole grain consumers affects the brain’s ability to regulate metabolism. Because your brain does not perceive that you are conserving energy, metabolism is not reduced. This is good news for carb lovers.

Making the switch to whole grains can be easy. Swap brown rice or quinoa for white rice, or whole wheat pasta and bread for white bread or pasta. Try bran or wheat-based cereals in place of corn or rice.

Whole grains are the new black.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Karl, J Philip, Meydani, Mohsen, Barnett, Junaidah, et. al., Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women. American J of Clinical Nutrition, February 8, 2017, doi: 10.3945/?ajcn.116.139683.
  2. Mozaffarian, D, MD, Dr PH, Hao, Tao MPH, Rimm, Eric B, Willett, Walter MD, Dr PH, Hu, Frank MD, PhD. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and long term weight gain in men and women. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404. June 23, 2011.
  3. Burfoot, Amby. Despite the anti-carb diet fads, whole grains are still good for you. The Washington Post: 20 March 2017.

Resources:

Help your audience get more whole grains each day with these accessible and memorable resources…

Handout Sneak Peek: Vitamin and Mineral Chart

You know what has been flying off the shelves lately?

The Vitamin and Mineral Chart. This poster highlights particular foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Since most consumers need to eat a more plant-based diet in order to avoid excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars while somehow managing to get enough nutrients in the calories allotted, it’s wise to have a few materials that could make that transition easier. This chart has been an eye-catching tool for inspiring and maintaining motivation, along with teaching key nutrient lessons.

As a special bonus, I want to share the printable educational handout that comes with the poster. Normally you could only access this if you had already bought the poster, but today I’m going to make an exception. The Eat Your Nutrients handout features macronutrients and micronutrients alike, highlighting the health benefits of these vital food elements.

Enjoy!

Vitamin A: Prevents eye problems. Necessary for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction.

B-Vitamins: This group includes B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic Acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic Acid, and B-12 Choline. Necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Activates B-6 and folate, which is essential for red blood cell growth and maturity.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against cell damage; boosts immune systems; forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D: Aids absorption and usage of calcium and phosphorous ; necessary for growth and calcification of bones and teeth. The best source is the sun.

Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and bone health.

Calcium: Essential in bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, absorption of B-12, blood clotting, and growth.

Copper: Necessary for absorption, storage, and metabolism of iron; key to formation of red blood cells.

Iodine: Regulates rate of energy production and body weight. Promotes growth and health of hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

Iron: Hemoglobin and myoglobin formation, oxygen and CO2 transfer, red blood cell formation, and energy release.

Magnesium: Helps heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.

Phosphorous: Helps cells to function normally. Helps your body produce energy. Key for bone growth.

Potassium: Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium: An essential trace element; protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium: Primarily controls the body’s osmotic pressure, hydration, and electrical activities.

Zinc: Supports the body’s immune and nerve function; important in reproduction.

Protein: A necessary major nutrient in the diet, providing amino acids, which are necessary for growth and development.

Carbohydrate: Provides basic source of energy; stored as glycogen in all tissues of the body, especially the liver and muscles.

Fat: Also known as adipose tissue. Serves as an energy reserve.

Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

And here’s a free printable copy of the handout!

Whats In Your Food Handout

Looking for more nutrition education materials? Here are some of the newest resources to hit the store!

Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Photo Collection

Sodium Math Handout

Floor Sticker: Make Your Salad a Rainbow