Friday, March 22, 2013

The "Whole Grains are Healthy" Myth

Fat Head:
Every time I tracked down a study purporting to prove the benefits of whole grains, the comparison was between people consuming whole grains and people consuming white flour. All we can determine from those studies is that whole grains aren’t as bad for us as white flour. To prove whole grains have real benefits, we’d have to compare people who eat whole grains to people who eat no grains.

… Well, here’s one study that actually measured changes in heart-disease risk factors after feeding subjects whole grains (WG):
A total of 316 participants … were randomly assigned to three groups: control (no dietary change), intervention 1 (60 g WG/d for 16 weeks) and intervention 2 (60 g WG/d for 8 weeks followed by 120 g WG/d for 8 weeks). Markers of CVD risk … were: BMI, percentage body fat, waist circumference; fasting plasma lipid profile, glucose and insulin; and indicators of inflammatory, coagulation, and endothelial function. …
120 grams of whole grains … that’s a lot of hearthealthywholegrain goodness. Now let’s look at the results:
Although reported WG intake was significantly increased among intervention groups, and demonstrated good participant compliance, there were no significant differences in any markers of CVD risk between groups. A period of 4 months may be insufficient to change the lifelong disease trajectory associated with CVD. The lack of impact of increasing WG consumption on CVD risk markers implies that public health messages may need to be clarified to consider the source of WG and/or other diet and lifestyle factors linked to the benefits of whole-grain consumption seen in observational studies.
Yes, I’d say the public-health messages regarding whole grains need to be clarified. Here’s my version of the clarification:
Sorry … turns out we were wrong about the whole-grain thing.

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