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Whole Grains: Benefits and Challenges

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      Abstract

      Inclusion of whole grains (WG) in the diet is recommended in dietary guidance around the world because of their associations with increased health and reduced risk of chronic disease. WGs are linked to reduced risk of obesity or weight gain; reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease (CHD), hypertension, and stroke; improved gut health and decreased risk of cancers of the upper gut; perhaps reduced risk of colorectal cancer; and lower mortality rate. The 2005 United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended that consumers make “half their grains whole.” Yet, whole grains are puzzling both consumers and scientists. Scientists are trying to determine whether their health benefits are due to the synergy of WG components, individual WG components, or the fact that WG eaters make many of the recommended diet and lifestyle choices. Consumers need to understand the WG benefits and how to identify WG foods to have incentive to purchase and use such foods. Industry needs to develop great-tasting, clearly-labeled products. With both these factors working together, it will be possible to change WG consumption habits among consumers.

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      Most cited references 87

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      A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group.

      It is known that obesity, sodium intake, and alcohol consumption factors influence blood pressure. In this clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, we assessed the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. We enrolled 459 adults with systolic blood pressures of less than 160 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressures of 80 to 95 mm Hg. For three weeks, the subjects were fed a control diet that was low in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, with a fat content typical of the average diet in the United States. They were then randomly assigned to receive for eight weeks the control diet, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, or a "combination" diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and with reduced saturated and total fat. Sodium intake and body weight were maintained at constant levels. At base line, the mean (+/-SD) systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 131.3+/-10.8 mm Hg and 84.7+/-4.7 mm Hg, respectively. The combination diet reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 and 3.0 mm Hg more, respectively, than the control diet (P or =140 mm Hg; diastolic pressure, > or =90 mm Hg; or both), the combination diet reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11.4 and 5.5 mm Hg more, respectively, than the control diet (P<0.001 for each); among the 326 subjects without hypertension, the corresponding reductions were 3.5 mm Hg (P<0.001) and 2.1 mm Hg (P=0.003). A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods and with reduced saturated and total fat can substantially lower blood pressure. This diet offers an additional nutritional approach to preventing and treating hypertension.
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        This review provides an update of recent studies of dietary fiber and weight and includes a discussion of potential mechanisms of how dietary fiber can aid weight loss and weight maintenance. Human studies published on dietary fiber and body weight were reviewed and summarized. Dietary fiber content of popular low-carbohydrate diets were calculated and are presented. Epidemiologic support that dietary fiber intake prevents obesity is strong. Fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat. In addition, fiber intake is inversely associated with body mass index at all levels of fat intake after adjusting for confounding factors. Results from intervention studies are more mixed, although the addition of dietary fiber generally decreases food intake and, hence, body weight. Many mechanisms have been suggested for how dietary fiber aids in weight management, including promoting satiation, decreasing absorption of macronutrients, and altering secretion of gut hormones. The average fiber intake of adults in the United States is less than half recommended levels and is lower still among those who follow currently popular low-carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins and South Beach. Increasing consumption of dietary fiber with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes across the life cycle is a critical step in stemming the epidemic of obesity found in developed countries. The addition of functional fiber to weight-loss diets should also be considered as a tool to improve success.
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          Antioxidant activity of grains.

          Epidemiological studies have shown that consumption of whole grains and grain-based products is associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases. The health benefits of whole grains are attributed in part to their unique phytochemical composition. However, the phytochemical contents in grains have been commonly underestimated in the literature, because bound phytochemicals were not included. This study was designed to investigate the complete phytochemical profiles in free, soluble conjugated, and insoluble bound forms, as well as their antioxidant activities in uncooked whole grains. Corn had the highest total phenolic content (15.55 +/- 0.60 micromol of gallic acid equiv/g of grain) of the grains tested, followed by wheat (7.99 +/- 0.39 micromol of gallic acid equiv/g of grain), oats (6.53 +/- 0.19 micromol of gallic acid equiv/g of grain), and rice (5.56 +/- 0.17 micromol of gallic acid equiv/g of grain). The major portion of phenolics in grains existed in the bound form (85% in corn, 75% in oats and wheat, and 62% in rice), although free phenolics were frequently reported in the literature. Ferulic acid was the major phenolic compound in grains tested, with free, soluble-conjugated, and bound ferulic acids present in the ratio 0.1:1:100. Corn had the highest total antioxidant activity (181.42 +/- 0.86 micromol of vitamin C equiv/g of grain), followed by wheat (76.70 +/- 1.38 micromol of vitamin C equiv/g of grain), oats (74.67 +/- 1.49 micromol of vitamin C equiv/g of grain), and rice (55.77 +/- 1.62 micromol of vitamin C equiv/g of grain). Bound phytochemicals were the major contributors to the total antioxidant activity: 90% in wheat, 87% in corn, 71% in rice, and 58% in oats. Bound phytochemicals could survive stomach and intestinal digestion to reach the colon. This may partly explain the mechanism of grain consumption in the prevention of colon cancer, other digestive cancers, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, which is supported by epidemiological studies.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Family, Consumer, and Nutritional Sciences, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105; email:
            [2 ]Grains for Health Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota 55121
            Journal
            Annual Review of Food Science and Technology
            Annu. Rev. Food Sci. Technol.
            Annual Reviews
            1941-1413
            1941-1421
            April 2010
            April 2010
            : 1
            : 1
            : 19-40
            10.1146/annurev.food.112408.132746
            © 2010

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