A new research review, published in health professional journal, Network Health Dietitian and commissioned by the Breakfast Cereal Information Service, has revealed the many proven health benefits of ordinary cereal grains used to make high fibre and whole grain breakfast cereals.
Lead author, registered dietitian and an advisor to the Breakfast Cereal Information Service (BCIS), Dr Carrie Ruxton, comments: “Oats, wheat, rye and barley are all UK staple crops and I suppose we simply take them for granted. Yet studies show that they offer benefits for heart health, natural energy, blood sugar control and gut health. There are even studies showing a reduced risk of cancer when these whole grains are eaten regularly.”
According to the review, which analysed more than 20 different studies, there is now good evidence that:
Wheat fibre reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. One large study found a 19% lower risk of bowel cancer reoccurrence with higher intakes of wheat fibre.
Oats significantly lowers ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol thanks to the rich content of a special soluble fibre, called beta glucan. The cholesterol-lowering ability of diets containing oats has been compared favourably with statins. In one clinical study, a portfolio diet rich in oats lowered LDL cholesterol by 30% after 4 weeks while statins lowered it by 33%.
More emerging evidence suggests that oats are helpful in weight management by boosting satiety – a feeling of prolonged fullness after meals.
Rye is beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels and can also help with weight management. Two studies, found that eating foods high in rye significantly lowered glucose and insulin levels in the blood and boosted satiety. Rye could also help to lower total and LDL cholesterol according to two clinical trials,.
Barley is low GI due to its soluble fibre content. Typically used in the brewing industry, barley is becoming more fashionable as an ingredient in breakfast cereals, breads, drinks and supplements.
Two clinical trials,, one of which involved men with high cholesterol levels, found significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, when barley-rich foods were eaten. The cholesterol-lowering benefits were seen in just 4 weeks.
Other research suggests that beta-glucan in barley can help to lower blood glucose and insulin responses as well as stimulating production of GLP-1, a hormone that is believed to control appetite.
Dr Ruxton adds: “My review showcased the many hidden health benefits of ordinary grains found in high fibre breakfast cereals and some other foods.
“From blood cholesterol reduction to satiety and blood sugar control, whole grains can help us stay healthy throughout our lives. Fibre intakes in the UK are only around 60% of recommended levels and many people eat no high fibre or whole grain foods putting themselves at risk of digestive conditions, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
“Eating a high fibre breakfast cereal, containing wheat, oats, barley or rye, is a positive way to start your day”.
For more information, check out: www.breakfastcereal.org
- Ruxton C (2015) Nutritional aspects of high fibre cereal ingredients. Network Health Dietitian 108 (October): 55-57.
- Stevenson L et al. (2012) Int J Food Sci Nutr 63: 1001-13.
- Aune D et al. (2013) Eur J Epidemiol 28: 845-58.
- Jacobs ET et al. (2006) Am J Clin Nutr 83: 343-9.
- EU register on nutrition and health claims. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/
- Jenkins DJ et al. (2005) Am J Clin Nutr 81: 380-7.
- Maki KC et al. (2010) J Am Diet Assoc 110 205-14.
- Rosén LA et al. (2009) Nutr J 8: 42.
- Lappi J et al. (2014) Nutr J 13:104.
- Leinonen KS et al. (2000) J Nutr 130: 164-70.
- Söderholm PP et al. (2012) Atherosclerosis 221: 583-6.
- Behall KM et al. (2004) J Am Coll Nutr 23: 55-62.
- Tovar J et al. (2014) Br J Nutr 111: 706-14.
- Ames N et al. (2015) Br J Nutr 113: 1373-1383.
- SACN (2015) Carbohydrates and Health. PHE: London.
- Bates et al. (2014) National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme years 1-4. London: FSA/PHE.