Whole grains may lower prediabetes risk

December 20, 2012

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating whole grains may be associated with a decreased risk of prediabetes.

In a prospective population-based study, the researchers investigated whether a higher intake of whole grain protects against the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The study included 5,477 residents from Stockholm, Sweden, ages 35–56 without diabetes who kept food diaries of how much whole and refined grains they ate. Researchers measured blood glucose in study participants and followed up 10 years later.

During the 10 year follow-up, one in 13 participants became prediabetic, while one in 33 became diabetic. When researchers took into account the daily amount of whole grains eaten, they found that eating more than 59 g versus 30 g of whole grain was associated with a 27% decreased risk of becoming prediabetic. The association was stronger for men, and those with an increased genetic risk for developing diabetes did not see a difference, researchers found. Whole grains range from oatmeal to popcorn, from brown rice to whole wheat—as long as the entire kernel is consumed.

The researchers concluded that “a higher intake of whole grain is associated with decreased risk of deteriorating glucose tolerance including progression from normal glucose tolerance to prediabetes by mechanisms likely tied to effects on insulin sensitivity.”