Health Tips > Nutrition Bites > Nutrition Experts Get to the Truth About Whole Grains and Diet

Nutrition Experts Get to the Truth About Whole Grains and Diet

View All Section Pages

Nutrition Experts Get to the Truth About Whole Grains and Diet

Every day, more and more studies show the benefits of whole grains. But with claims that grains cause weight gain and obesity it can be confusing to sort through the information to get to the bottom of it all. Are whole grains causing obesity? Do they increase body fat? What is the truth about whole grains?

Claims vs. Truth

Do whole grains increase body fat?  

A 12-week randomized clinical trial conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012 asked 79 women to eat a calorie-restricted diet incorporating either 480 calories of refined grain foods or the same amount of whole grain foods. What they found was that the participants that were eating the diet with whole grains lost more weight and saw a more significant decrease in body fat compared to those eating refined grains.

Are whole grains the culprit behind the obesity epidemic? 

In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, a team of Dutch researchers studied a total of 4,237 men and women and found that higher whole grain consumption was associated with lower BMI and a reduced risk of obesity. For every additional gram of whole grain consumption, men's risk dropped 10 percent and women's risk dropped 4 percent.

The truth is that there is no one single culprit behind the health problems that are afflicting us. Eating too much of anything can cause weight gain. As with any food, whole grains will not cause weight gain unless you are eating too many calories from them.

The Value of Grains
There are many benefits of including whole grains in your diet. As stated above, whole grains can help reduce weight. Whole grains have also been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower total cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol, improved glucose response and reduced risk of stroke. Whole grains also have some valuable antioxidants as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber.

Tips to Include Whole Grains in your Diet

  • There are several easy ways to incorporate more whole grains in your diet. You should aim to make at least half of your grains whole each day.
  • Choose fiber-rich whole grain cereals, oats or toast for breakfast.  More fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer!
  • For snacks, try whole grains such as air-popped popcorn or whole wheat crackers.
  • Try substituting whole grain products instead of refined grain products. For example, whole wheat bread, tortillas, hamburger buns and pasta.
  • Experiment with different grains! Try something interesting or new such as quinoa, barley, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth or farro. 

Now that we know the truth about and some benefits of whole grains as well as a few easy ways to incorporate them into our daily meals, it will be a cinch for you to increase your intake of this fantastic food. And remember to read food labels when picking out your whole grains. Look for foods that list “whole wheat” or another whole grain as the first ingredient—just because it’s brown, doesn’t mean it’s a whole grain product!

For information on a nutrition consultation at Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition.