16181270-baking-goods-breadWhole grains are a gut’s best friend.

British researchers at Imperial College (IC) in London found a 17% lower risk of colorectal cancer among those who consumed just an extra three daily servings of whole grains.

Nicola McKeown, PhD and director of Tuft’s Friedman School’s Nutritional Epidemiology Program, says, “Previous observational studies have seen improved health outcomes in people consuming, on average three or more servings of whole grains—for instance, reduced cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes risk and some cancers.”

Dagfinn Aune, PhD of IC, and colleagues conducted the largest analysis ever of fiber consumption and colorectal cancer.  They pooled results from 25 prior studies totaling some 2,000,000 participants and found that for each 5 slices of whole-wheat bread, cancer occurrence dropped 10%.

Whole grains contain all essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded and/or cooked, the food product delivers the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in its original grain seed.

The Whole Grains Council lists these sources as generally accepted whole grain foods and flours:  Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn, Millet, Oats, including oatmeal, Quinoa, Rice, both brown and colored, Rye, Sorghum, aka Milo, Teff, Triticale, Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, Kamut, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries, and Wild rice.

Aune observed, “Although we did not find an association between fiber from fruit and vegetables and colorectal cancer in this analysis, we have previously shown a protective effect for intake of fruit and vegetables.”

“Most people are consuming refined grain foods and missing out on the fiber and nutrients concentrated in whole grains,” says McKeown.  “So, increasing consumption of whole grains into one’s daily diet is important.

“The first step is to replace some of those existing refined grains with whole-grain equivalents—for example, brown rice for white rice, whole-wheat or whole-rye bread for white bread, whole-wheat pasta for regular pasta, and avoid refined grain products high in sugar and fat.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 1, 2013     Study published in British Medical Journal

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