According to the results of a large study, increasing consumption of whole-grain foods reduces the risk of type two diabetes in women. This effect is not completely explained by dietary fibre, nor the vitamin and mineral content of these foods, suggesting that other characteristics of whole grains are important in protecting against diabetes.
Harvard Medical School scientists analyzed data from 75,521 participants in the Nurses' Health Study from 1984 to 1994. When the investigators compared subjects with the highest and lowest quintiles of whole-grain intake, the relative risk for type 2 diabetes was 40% lower for women who consumed the most whole grains.
After accounting for other factors such as age and calorie intake, increasing the amount of refined grains was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes; those women who ate the most refined (white) grains had a 57% greater risk for the disease compared to those who ate the least.
Most of the individual foods contributing to whole-grain intake included dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereal, brown rice, wheat germ, and bran.
Other antioxidants, nutrients, or plant chemicals in whole grains or interactions among them may play important roles in risk reduction.
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